Neanderthal's population might have declined due to sex with humans: Study

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 07, 2021, 05:03 PM(IST)

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While the disorder is considered to be extremely rare in human species now, it is considered to be common in Neanderthals as the species’ gene pool is very limited

A group of scientists have discovered that a rare blood disorder could have had a severely negative impact on the offsprings of Neanderthals, as a result of sexual relations between human beings and Neanderthals.

According to a study published in PLOS One journal, the blood samples of Neanderthals show that their blood carried a specific set of genetic variants, which was susceptible to haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn (HDFN). Researchers believe that this HDFN can cause anaemia and usually worsens with second, third and following pregnancies.

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This, they believe, could have led to a decrease in the number of Neanderthal children.

"Analyses of blood group systems of Neanderthals and Denisovans contributed to a better understanding of their origin, expansion and encounters with Homo sapiens," the report read.

Although this could have also happened as a result of sexual relationships solely between Neanderthals, the risk of HDFN is reported to be higher in cases of sexual relationships between human ancestors and Neanderthals.

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"These elements could have contributed to weakening the descendants to the point of leading to their demise, especially combined with the competition with Homo sapiens for the same ecological niche," the report claims.

While the disorder is considered to be extremely rare in human species now, it is considered to be common in Neanderthals as the species’ gene pool is very limited.

"The fact that these forms of genes were detected in individuals separated by 4,000km and 50,000 years suggest that this genetic peculiarity — and the risk of [an] anaemic foetus — would have been quite common amongst Neanderthals," Stephane Mazieres, a lead author on the research from Aix-Marseille University was quoted saying by the Daily Mail.

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