London: It seems that there's a little bit of Neanderthal in all of us, for scientists have claimed that interbreeding with the species may have helped in boosting the brainpower and immune system of modern humans.
A team, led by Peter Parham of Stanford University, says that the interbreeding with Neanderthals actually gave human ancestors a readymade cocktail of DNA invaluable in fighting diseases common in northern climates.
This, in turn, vastly sped up our evolution, and gave people the strength and resilience needed to populate the world, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
Scientists have claimed that interbreeding with the species may have helped in boosting modern human traits.
For their study, Prof Parham and his team focused on a family of 200-plus genes called human leukocyte antigens that are key to the workings of the immune system. They showed that some of our HLA genes are identical to those that were found in Neanderthals.
This includes one Neanderthal immune system gene, called HLA-C*0702, which is also quite common in modern European and Asian populations but absent in modern Africans.
Experts believe that modern man and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor in Africa. Around 400,000 years ago, early Neanderthals left Africa and headed for Europe and Asia. But, human ancestors stayed behind and evolved into modern humans.
Prof Parham's results could be explained by interbreeding between the two "tribes" passing immunity to disease developed by the Neanderthals after they d left Africa our way.
He said that this interbreeding instilled modern man with a "hybrid vigour" that allowed it to go on and populate the world.
What other traits would you want to carry over from our ancestors?
The ability to survive in the worst conditions
The ability to hunt
The ability to navigate and build