Neanderthal DNA and Morning People

Neanderthal DNA and Morning People

Ancient Interbreeding Leaves Genetic Mark

Did you know that our early ancestors, the Neanderthals, might be the reason why some people are early risers? A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California in San Francisco has found a connection between Neanderthal DNA and our body clocks, also known as circadian rhythms.

Genetic Variants Impact Circadian Rhythms

Through analyzing DNA from both Neanderthals and modern humans, the researchers discovered specific genetic variants that affect our circadian rhythms. These variants were passed down from our Neanderthal ancestors through interbreeding. This means that some people today carry these genetic variants, which make them more likely to be morning people.

Adaptation to Latitude and Seasonal Variation

Why did these genetic variants stick around? Well, it turns out that they helped our early human ancestors adapt to life in different parts of the world. Neanderthals lived in regions with changing seasons and different amounts of daylight. Having a faster-running internal clock, or being a morning person, helped them adjust to these changes in light levels.

Modern Implications and Environmental Influences

Being a morning person is not just about genetics. It’s also influenced by our environment and culture. While Neanderthal genes do play a role in our waking habits, there are many other factors at play. However, the genetic evidence suggests that being a morning person can be beneficial in regions with varying levels of daylight throughout the year.

Expert Perspective and Evolutionary Insights

According to Professor Mark Maslin from University College London, the genetic evidence aligns with the challenges faced by early humans and Neanderthals. Collecting food during winter, when there are shorter daylight hours, may have favored individuals who naturally woke up early.

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The Enduring Impact of Ancient Interbreeding

As scientists continue to explore the genetic roots of human behavior, this study shows us how our daily routines are influenced by our ancient ancestors. The interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals has left a lasting impact on our genes and our lives today.

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