A group of researchers found that people with longer brain and skulls, typical of primates, could be direct progeny of Neanderthals, according to a study published today in the scientific journal Current Biologoy.
The researchers carried out a series of computer tomographs of seven skulls of fossilized Neanderthals and 19 modern human skulls, which enabled them to analyze the inside of these skulls and measure their roundness. Also scientists They analyzed 4,500 living people that they had both genetic data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their brain.
"We thought that if we could identify certain Neanderthal DNA fragments in a sufficiently large sample of living people, we could test whether any one of these pushes into a less deep form of the brain," explains Simon Fisher, a neurogenist at the Max Plack Psychological Institute in Nimesh ( Netherlands) to life science. "[Esto] allows us to focus on the genes that could be relevant to this property, "continues a Dutch scientist.
Still, Fisher emphasizes this the effects of neanderthal gene variants are small, so – provides – we can not notice if someone comes from Neanderthals only with a look at the form of a non-human head.
According to this new study, the fragments of the analyzed neanderthal DNA contained two genes that were previously analyzed in other brain development studies, one related to the neuron generation, and the other by the development of fatty insulation around the nerve cells.
Researchers also found that this neanderthal DNA has more powerful effects on brain structures known as pathamen and brain, which are crucial for the preparation, learning and coordination of movements, as well as for memory, attention, speech or language, among other human functions.
Scientists have stressed that if a person has more Neanderthal than an average, this does not necessarily mean that their brain is more elongated. "Two people who have a similar amount of Neanderthal DNA, for example 1% of their genomes, can carry completely different fragments," explains Fisher. Under the same lines, experts say that you Differences in skulls are probably not reflected at the moment of childbearing – having a skull like a neanderthal – but they are related to brain growth alone
Fisher concludes that it is possible that future research will be developed using a number of Neanderthal DNA that is associated with modern human brain to determine the specific effects of these old gene variants in the development of brain tissue with DNA from our ancestors in laboratory.