Evolutionary Biology

How Neanderthals Influenced Human Genetics at the Crossroads of Asia and Europe

When the ancestors of modern humans migrated out of Africa, they passed through the Middle East and Turkey before heading deeper into Asia and Europe. Here, at this important crossroads, it’s thought that they encountered and had sexual rendezvous with a different hominid species: the Neanderthals. Genomic evidence shows that this ancient interbreeding occurred, and Western Asia is the most likely…

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Humans Still Evolving, Large-Scale Study of Genetic Data Shows

In a study analyzing the genomes of 210,000 people in the United States and Britain, researchers have found that the genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking are less frequent in people with longer lifespans, suggesting that natural selection is weeding out these unfavorable variants in both populations. “It’s a subtle signal, but we find genetic evidence that…

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Kent State Researchers Help Find Pathologic Hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease in Aged Chimpanzee Brains

Dementia affects one-third of all people older than 65 years in the United States. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive, irreversible brain disease that results in impaired cognitive functioning and other behavioral changes. Humans are considered uniquely susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease, potentially due to genetic differences, changes in brain structure and function during evolution, and an…

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Restless Development: Bad Sleep May Be Evolutionary Survival Tool, Study Finds

Poor sleep is often regarded as a modern affliction linked to our sedentary lifestyles, electric lighting and smartphones on the bedside table. However, new research suggests that fitful sleep could be an ancient survival mechanism designed to guard against nocturnal threats. The study, which tracked the sleep patterns of a modern-day hunter-gatherer tribe in northern Tanzania, found that frequent night-time…

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First Big Efforts to Sequence Ancient African DNA Reveal How Early Humans Swept Across the Continent

The study of ancient human DNA has not been an equal opportunity endeavor. Early Europeans and Asians have had portions of their genomes sequenced by the hundreds over the past decade, rewriting Eurasian history in the process. But because genetic material decays rapidly in warm, moist climates, scientists had sequenced the DNA of just one ancient African. Until now. This week,…

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Long-Term Sexual Intimidation May Be Widespread in Primate Societies

After observing the mating habits of chacma baboons living in the wild over a four-year period, researchers have found that males of the species often use long-term sexual intimidation to control their mates. The findings suggest that this mating strategy has a long history in primates, including humans, and may be widespread across social mammals — especially when males of…

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