Once upon a time, two types of people coexisted on Earth – Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. The former for some reason died out, while the latter remained to live and gave rise to modern people. Scientists still argue about the reasons for the extinction of Neanderthals. A new hypothesis has emerged on this topic.
Perhaps the Neanderthals were killed … by sex. But not simple, but interspecific.
Genetic scientists analyzed the blood types of three Neanderthals, whose DNA was successfully recovered. These individuals did not live together and were born at different times. Despite the fact that the Neanderthals were not related to each other, they found a genetic variant that made them vulnerable to a blood disorder known as hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). This condition develops in expectant mothers and can be fatal to the fetus.
HDFN can develop when the mother and father have incompatible blood types. In modern humans, this condition occurs in about three cases of pregnancies out of 100,000. Research has shown that Neanderthal women were exposed to this disease more often. Scientists said that if a Neanderthal woman with a negative Rh factor mates with a Cro-Magnon man with a positive Rh factor, the risk of developing HDFN increases dramatically. Researchers believe interspecies sex is responsible for the increased incidence of HDFN in Neanderthals.
It might not matter if Neanderthal populations remained high and crosses with modern humans were rare. But if the population of Neanderthals was declining for other reasons, they more often mated with neighbors, and this could doom them to extinction.
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