An artist’s depiction of a family of Neanderthals.

Humans and Neanderthals Branched off 600,000 years ago Due to an Incompatible Y Chromosome

(Read the article on one page)

Neanderthals and humans branched off about 600,000 years ago, possibly because of genetic incompatibility in the context of the Y chromosome, a team of researchers has announced.

There was some interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals around 100,000 to 60,000 years ago, previous research has shown.

The latest research speculates that male children conceived between a Homo sapien woman and a Neanderthal man would have resulted in miscarriage, an article in New Scientist says. The research posits that the most recent common ancestor between humans and Neanderthals lived around 590,000 years ago. This time frame is compatible with other researchers’ estimates.

A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

 “Neanderthal genes have been found in our genomes, on X chromosomes, and have been linked to traits such as skin color, fertility and even depression and addiction,” the article states. “Now, an analysis of a Y chromosome from a 49,000-year-old male Neanderthal found in El Sidrón, Spain, suggests the chromosome has gone extinct seemingly without leaving any trace in modern humans. This could simply be because it drifted out of the human gene pool or, as the new study suggests, it could be because genetic differences meant that hybrid offspring who had this chromosome were infertile – a genetic dead end.”

The study offered that the woman’s immune system may have attacked the fetuses that had the Neanderthal Y chromosome due to incompatibility. Over time, the consistent miscarriages could have led to the absence of these genes in modern humans.

Stanford University’s Fernando Mendez led the research, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics , comparing ancient and modern humans, Neanderthal, and chimpanzee Y chromosomes. New Scientist says they determined mutations in four genes that could have prevented the Y chromosome to pass from Neanderthal fathers to the hybrid children.

“Some of these mutations could have played a role in the loss of Neanderthal Y chromosomes in human populations,” Mendez said.

Relationship of Neanderthal Y Chromosome to Those of Modern Humans. The genealogy (red tree) can be parsimoniously explained as mirroring the population divergence (gray tree).

Relationship of Neanderthal Y Chromosome to Those of Modern Humans. The genealogy (red tree) can be parsimoniously explained as mirroring the population divergence (gray tree). The researchers find no evidence for (a) a highly divergent super-archaic origin of the Neanderthal Y chromosome, (b) ancient gene flow post-dating the population split, or (c) relatively recent introgression of a modern human Y chromosome into the Neanderthal population. ( Mendez et al. )

An October 2015 article by Darren Curnoe on The Conversation reported much the same about the Y chromosome. Curnoe said :

“Over the past half-decade, ancient DNA research has revealed some surprising aspects to our evolutionary history during the past 50,000 years. Perhaps the most startling of these has been the extent to which the ancestors of living people across the planet interbred with other closely related species of human. […] One  particularly interesting example  compared the genome of a female Neanderthal with 1,000 contemporary human ones from across the world and found clear evidence for negative selection. Mapping the DNA of Neanderthals against this large number of human genomes also showed that there were vast ‘deserts’ of Neanderthal ancestry. One million base pairs compared across the autosomes (i.e. other than the X or Y chromosomes) showed four windows in Europeans and 14 in East Asians where around 0.1% of the DNA was Neanderthal. The human Y chromosome is also known to be lacking Neanderthal DNA suggesting strong natural selection against hybrid males, who were likely to have been infertile.”

In January 2016, a paper published in The American Journal of Human Genetics said other studies have found that modern human immunity was boosted by interbreeding with what the authors call “archaic humans.” The genes the authors studied, human toll-like receptors, were possibly passed down to modern humans when they and Neanderthals interbred around 50,000 years ago.

Comparison of Modern Human and Neanderthal skulls from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. (Deriv)

Comparison of Modern Human and Neanderthal skulls from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. (Deriv) ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

Researchers have estimated that 1 to 6 percent of modern Eurasian genes came from now extinct hominins, including the Denosivans and Neanderthals.

Featured Image: An artist’s depiction of a family of Neanderthals. Source: Public Domain

By Mark Miller


Mark Ryan Barrameda's picture

This article will help people out there, that the theory of evolution and bible are wrong… 

Strange, I have just been reading a suggestion that Neanderthals, living across Europe, were possibly wiped out by diseases brought by humans from Afrrica to which they had no natural immunity.

Hominids and chimpanzee populations interbred for at least 2 million years in the African savannah before the two lines split, so it looks implausible that Neanderthals Y chromosome, already the aboriginal population in Europe and probably white skin, blue eyes, blond hair because of their early arrival and adaptation were so quickly drifted out of the human chromosomes.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

A Greek amphora showing athletes, 4th century BC. ©Trustees of the British Museum.
Every two years, when the Winter or Summer Olympics comes around, we hear about how the games staged at Olympia in Greece since 776 BC came to a sudden end in the late fourth century AD. The finger is pointed at the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius I (AD 379-395)

Myths & Legends

An illustration of Vasilisa the Beautiful, by Ivan Bilibin.
[…] In the evening the girl laid the table and began waiting for Baba-Yaga. It grew dark. The black horseman swept by and it was night. The skulls’ eyes began to shine. The trees creaked, the dead leaves crunched, the earth trembled, and there was Baba-Yaga…

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

Mammoth in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria (Canada). The display is from 1979, and the fur is musk ox hair.
In Sivershchina, close to the village of Mizyn in Ukraine is one of the oldest and most unique settlements of humans – and it was discovered in a parking lot. The now well-known archaeological site, known plainly as the Mizyn parking lot, dates back 18-20 thousand years.

Ancient Places

The highly-decorated tomb is built in a distinctive ‘L’ shape
A mysterious ancient tomb with “unusual and rare” wall paintings has been discovered in Egypt. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told BBC reporters the discovery of a 4,400-year-old tomb found during excavation work in Giza’s western cemetery “likely belonged to Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, the goddess of fertility, who assisted women in childbirth.”

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article