It's already been well established that early humans had Bunga-Bunga parties with their closest semi-human relatives. But scientists are just now discovering what came from those relations — a pathogen-killing immune response that persists to this day.
A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine has found that, through cross-breeding with Neanderthals — and another recently discovered relative called Denisovans — the modern human genome was imparted with key variants of HLA class I genes, the genes that trigger immune system responses to a variety of pathogens.
Specifically, researchers discovered a rare HLA gene variant HLA-B*73 originated from the mixing of modern humans and their ancestors. And, by comparing the genes, researchers proved that that specific allele likely came from cross-breeding with Denisovans.
"We are finding frequencies in Asia and Europe that are far greater than whole genome estimates of archaic DNA in modern human genomes, which is 1 to 6 per cent," Peter Parham told the journal, Science. In just one class of HLA genes, an estimated 50 per cent, 80 per cent and 95 per cent of European, Asian and Papua New Guinean DNA, respectively, is the result of interbreeding with "archaic humans".
While your gigantor brow and heavy jaw line may not win you any beauty contests, you can take solace in knowing that you won't be getting nearly as sick as your more "modern-looking" co-workers. [IB Times - Image courtesy of Neanderthal-Man.com]