Neanderthals had the same blood types as us


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.

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“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.


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