Mating with Neanderthals

Today, April 1, Nature Communications reports on another study on those sneaky Neanderthal genes that crept into the modern human genome, probably by climbing up a tree in the yard and entering through a bedroom window. In a popular article describing the project, Emily Willingham writes:

…Khrameeva and her colleagues noted that speculation regarding some Neanderthal-H. sapiens gene flow through sexual reproduction is “appealing.” And experts in the field generally agree that the idea is plausible, even if it’s not their favored explanation.

Now most Homo sapiens wouldn’t consider mating with a Neanderthal very appealing, but we do have to consider that about 4% of our genome derives from Neanderthals, so I’m guessing about it appeals to about 4% of the population. Since some governments are considering expanding the definition of marriage to include relationships with other species, at least when submitting their tax returns, it’s time for this minority to speak up and be heard.

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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