Do you have any Neanderthal in you?

The answer (never mind the punchline) might be “yes”, according to a paper in PNAS this week. Comment and review is available in Science and at evolgen.

The authors have used a technique called the interhaplogroup divergence test to analyse a gene named MCPH1, which regulates brain size. They present evidence that this gene is derived from “archaic Homo populations”. Neanderthals are a possibility given that we think there was a long period of coexistence between them and modern humans, but the paper does state that this is speculation and that the Neanderthal lineage is “a potential (although by no means only) candidate”. It would be great if those Neanderthal genome guys at the Max Planck Institute could sequence this gene from ancient DNA.