Neanderthal DNA may be associated with the formation of harmful habits in modern people like smoking and alcoholism. This conclusion was reached by scientists from the University of Tartu in Estonia.
Back in 2010, the current winner of the Nobel Prize, Swede Svante Paabo, sequenced and analyzed the DNA of Neanderthals, taking genetic material from their bones discovered at excavations. He created a map of the entire genome, and then compared it with the genome of modern humans. The geneticist confirmed the existing assumptions that modern humans carry some traces of Neanderthal DNA in their genome. Consequently, there were sexual contacts between this species of living beings and representatives of Homo sapiens, as a result of which modern humans could appear.
Based on the results obtained, scientists from Estonia decided to analyze the DNA of Neanderthals in order to assess its impact on the formation of some harmful human habits. Using data from the British Biobank, they also investigated over 100 variants of certain diseases. The main purpose of this analysis was to assess the specific contribution of Neanderthal DNA to human behavior traits.
The results demonstrate that Neanderthals had several options that increase the risk of developing a bad smoking habit in modern humans. Connections of Neanderthal DNA with the development of cravings for alcohol have been obtained, which can help not only to fully assess the evolutionary origin of certain addictions, but also to develop more effective methods of combating them. Neanderthal DNA may also be to blame for the development of sleep problems observed in modern humans.