Blame the Neanderthals!

I am loathe to post this lest I seem like an obsessive on the question of human origins, but his just came across my BBC/Science Twitter feed: “Neanderthals gave us disease genes.” Studies suggest that 2-4% of the genome of Europeans and Asians descends from Neanderthals, but it is not evenly distributed across the modern genome. A study published in Nature suggests that several “genes that cause disease in people today were picked up through interbreeding with Neanderthals. … These include the genes involved in type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and – curiously – smoking addiction.” The study further postulates that “these gene variants provided a rapid way for modern humans to adapt to the new cooler environments they encountered as they moved into Eurasia. When the populations met, Neanderthals had already been adapting to these conditions for several hundred thousand years.” Amazing.


About George Vascik, Historian

A 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan, I have taught history at Miami University since 1992. I maintain blogs on teaching Western Civilization and on Great War. My research focuses on anti-Semitism and rural politics in northwest Germany. I am completing a monograph for Bloomsbury Press, Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics. You can follow my project at Along with Mark Sadler, I have published a book of primary documents on the Stab-in-the-Back Myth (Dolchstoßlegende). I also invite you to visit my profession web page at
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