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Scientists have found that Neanderthals were more strongly feel the pain

Geneticists have found that one of the genes that modern humans inherited from Neanderthals, which encodes an ion channel that is responsible for the sensation of pain. Hence, scientists have concluded that Neanderthals had a lower pain threshold than other types of people. The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

Neanderthals and modern man mixed-and swapped genes multiple times over thousands of years.

Is currently available several high-quality genomes of Neanderthals, and biologists are actively studying them, identifying the genetic characteristics and changes in individual genes of the Neanderthals, their effects and physiological effects that can occur including modern humans.

German scientists from the Institute of evolutionary anthropology of max Planck in Leipzig, together with their colleagues from Karolinska Institutet, the largest medical University in Sweden, considered one of these inherited genes, which carries the changes.

This gene, discovered in some people, mainly from Central and South America, and from Europe, which encodes the sodium ion channel Nav1.7, which initiates the sensation of pain.

The authors have studied the results of our extensive population genetic research in the UK. It turned out that the British, who carried a "Neanderthal" version of the ion channel, such amount to about 0.4 percent of the population do experience more pain.

"The most important factor, which determines the magnitude of pain reported people their age. The presence of "Neanderthal" version of the ion channels causes them to experience pain, as if they were eight years older, is given in the press release of the Institute for evolutionary anthropology the words of Dr. Hugo Zeberga (Hugo Zeberg), the first author of the article. — Compared to the modern version, "Neanderthal" version of the ion channel carries a three amino acid difference".

Although replacement of certain amino acids, as the researchers note, does not affect the function of ion channels at the molecular level "Neanderthal" ion channel electrophysiology has special properties — it is easier to activate, so the people who inherited it, stronger feel pain.

"Hard to say, did the Neanderthals more pain, because the pain is modulated in the spinal cord and brain. But this work shows that their threshold for initiation of pain impulses was lower than most modern humans," says study leader, Professor Svante Paabo.

Scientists hope that further genetic studies of the functions of the peripheral nervous system will allow the Neanderthals to answer this question.