News FocusPaleoanthropology

A Denisovan Legacy in the Immune System?

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Science  26 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6046, pp. 1086
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6046.1086

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The reproductive strategies of many animals are based on avoiding inbreeding, as when female chimpanzees move out of their birth groups to mate. Last year, researchers showed that human ancestors took that strategy to its limits by breeding with the now-extinct Neandertals and Denisovans. Now a study published online in Science this week suggests that such mating was beneficial, boosting the immune systems of early Europeans and Asians and leaving a valuable legacy in the genes of many people alive today.