Neanderthals and woolly mammoths may have harbored similar genetic adaptations to the cold, the Jerusalem Post reports.
A pair of researchers from Tel Aviv University examined three cold-related traits in the two species, noting that both Neanderthals and woolly mammoths arose from ancestors in Africa before further evolving in Eurasia at approximately the same time. As they report in a preprint at Human Biology, TAU's Meidad Kislev and Ran Barkai found that Neanderthals and woolly mammoths share changes affecting the LEPR, a leptin receptor gene linked to cold adaptions, though they note the other changes they investigated, affecting keratin and the MC1R and SLC7A11 genes, appeared inconclusive.
"It is now possible to try to answer a question no one has asked before: Are there genetic similarities between evolutionary adaptation paths in Neanderthals and mammoths?" Barkai says in a statement. "The answer seems to be yes. This idea alone opens endless avenues for new research in evolution, archaeology, and other disciplines."