REMNANTS of Neanderthal ancestry can be found in human genomes all over the world.
A new study is claiming that a rare mutated Neanderthal gene could be making some of those people more sensitive to pain.
Scientists have been taking a closer look at a variation in Neanderthal DNA that’s known to affect nerve impulses.
They think it could have made our ancient ancestors more prone to feeling pain.
A database containing half a million modern British genomes showed 0.4% of people may still carry this mutated gene.
Research found that people who were carrying that gene did tend to experience more painful symptoms than the average person in the UK.
The study relied on modern gene sequencing technology and scavenged Neanderthal DNA.
The gene in question makes a protein that determines at what point we experience a nerve impulse as pain.
Researcher Hugo Zeberg told Nature: “People have described it as a volume knob, setting the gain of the pain in nerve fibres.”
This bodily function is useful in some ways as feeling pain can protect us from more harm but too much sensitivity can lead to unnecessary chronic pain.
However, just because it’s present in Neanderthal DNA doesn’t mean we can be sure about what they felt.
Some researchers think increased pain would have encouraged Neanderthals to rest injuries earlier so they had more chance of surviving in the brutal environments they lived in.
Signs of injuries are common in Neanderthal remains as well as evidence that care was taken to nurse them back to health.
This research has been published in the journal Current Biology.
In other news, archaeologists think they’ve uncovered a murder victim from the Iron Age at a farm in the UK.
Hidden silver treasure from WW2 has been unearthed at a 600-year-old castle used by Nazis.
And, remains of a suspected ‘Amazon warrior’ have been identified as a girl no older than 13 years old.
What do you think about this Neanderthal discovery? Let us know in the comments…
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