Neanderthals had the same blood types as us

02.08.2021

The new study also offers some insights into what contributed to the Neanderthals’ decline.

A new analysis of Neanderthal genomes suggests that the ancient blood that circulated in this long-extinct population of archaic humans had more in common with modern human blood than scientists believed.

In the new study, published in PLOS One, Scientists from the Anthropologie Bio-Culturelle, Droit, Éthique et Santé (CNRS) research unit, the University of Aix-Marseille and the French Blood Establishment (EFS) examined the previously sequenced genomes of three Neanderthals (and one Denisovan) that lived between 100,000 and 40,000 years ago, in order to identify their blood groups and consider what they can reveal about the evolutionary history of the human being, according to the CNRS statement.

Same range of ABO variability seen in modern humans

Although it was long assumed that all Neanderthals possessed blood type O – just as chimpanzees are all type A and gorillas are all type B – a new study of the previously sequenced genomes of three Neanderthal individuals shows polymorphic variations in their blood, indicating that they were also carriers of other blood types found in the ABO blood group system (in other words, they also have blood types A and B), the same range of ABO variability seen in the modern humans.


Of the 40 known blood group systems, the team focused on the seven most commonly considered for blood transfusions, the most common of which are ABO systems (which determine blood types A, B, AB and O) and Rh.

African origin

In addition to the ABO discoveries, the researchers affirm that analyzes of the genes that underlie the blood groups of these archaic humans confirm the hypothesis that indicates an African origin, due to the absence of certain antigens in their blood and the presence of blood groups ancestral linked to African populations.

See also  Israeli Military Enters Riot-Torn Lod After Mayor Warns of Kristallnacht

“These traits are consistent with a Neanderthal and Denisovan gene pool prior to the departure of the homo sapiens from Africa, “the researchers write.

On the other hand, according to the statement, especially surprising is the discovery that Neanderthals harbored a unique Rh allele, absent in modern humans, with the notable exceptions of an Australian Aboriginal and a Papuan.

“Are these two individuals testimony to the interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans before the migration of the latter to Southeast Asia?” The scientists wonder.

Low genetic diversity and possible demographic fragility

As for what later contributed to the decline of the Neanderthals, the new study also offers some insights.

According to the researchers, the study sheds light on Neanderthal demographics, ensuring that these ancient hominins had very little genetic diversity and that they could have been susceptible to hemolytic diseases of the fetus and newborn (erythroblastosis fetalis) – due to maternal Rh incompatibility -fetal- in cases in which Neanderthal mothers carried the children of companions homo sapiens o denisovanos.

These indications reinforce the hypothesis that low genetic diversity and low reproductive success contributed to the disappearance of Neanderthals.

“These elements could have contributed to weaken the descendants to the point of causing their disappearance, especially combined with competition with homo sapiens for the same ecological niche, “write the researchers.

FEW (PLOS One, CNRS)

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

A new branch in the family tree

During excavations in a sinkhole near Tel Aviv, the remains of a hitherto unknown type of prehistoric man were discovered. It lived with “Homo sapiens” more than 100,000 years ago. The finds consist of parts of the skull and jaw of a human who lived between 120,000 and 140,000 years ago.

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

Obsolete image of the Neanderthal

In pop culture, Neanderthals are constantly depicted as burly brutes with a club. This image was primarily inspired by the discovery of a skeleton in 1908, but it had a deformed spine and crooked knees. The Oxford English Dictionary definition for “Neanderthal” includes “primitive, uncivilized, or rude person.”

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

More skilled than we think

It is now known that Neanderthals were skilled tool makers, could make fire in various ways, hunted large animals, and were even associated with “Homo sapiens.”

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

How the Beatles baptized an ancestor

The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was played to celebrate the discovery of a 3.2 million year old female skeleton, such that the great ape “Australopithecus afarensis” was named after the hit song. of the “Fab Four”. Lucy was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by paleontologist Donald C. Johanson and is one of the earliest ancestors of mankind.

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

Flo, alias “Hobbit”

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

Early test of our upright gait

In 1924, miners near Taung in South Africa discovered an unusual skull. Anatomy expert Raymond Dart discovered that it belonged to a three-year-old boy from the Hominini tribe, whom he named “Australopithecus africanus.” The 2.8 million-year-old fossil shows an upright gait, supporting the theory that modern humans evolved in Africa.

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

DNA reconstruction

In 2008, archaeologist Mikhail Shunkov discovered the remains of an unknown human species near the Russian-Kazakh border. Geneticists discovered that his DNA belonged to a hitherto unknown human ancestor. The “Denisova Man” got its name from the cave in which it was found and presumably migrated from Africa.

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

A new relative of “Homo sapiens”?

More than 1,500 fossil bones, belonging to at least 15 individuals of different ages of “Homo naledi”, were discovered in 2015 in a remote chamber within the Rising Star cave system in South Africa. However, experts disagree: was it a first-time “Homo sapiens” or a first-time “Homo erectus”?

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

They tell us their story

The art of our ancestors gives us clues about our past. These cave paintings in the Chiribiquete National Park, in Colombia, are more than 22,000 years old. Archaeologists believe that humans settled in America around 20,000 to 30,000 years ago.

The Unknown Prehistoric Man of Israel

The oldest cave painting

In 2017, archaeologists discovered cave paintings in Sulawesi, Indonesia. As they were made with ocher, an inorganic material, they could not be dated with the radiocarbon method. So the researchers examined the stalagmites and stalagmites that surround the paintings and found that the oldest painting was made at least 45,500 years ago.