For example, being a self-described night owl and being prone to daytime napping were both traits positively influenced by Neanderthal variants, as were loneliness, low mood, and smoking. Genetic loci associated with having red hair were found to be devoid of Neanderthal variants, suggesting red-headed Neanderthals were either rare or non-existent. The new study also supports Capra and colleagues’ previous observations that Neanderthal variants are associated with sun-induced skin lesions, mood disorders, and smoking.
That traits such as skin color, sun-burning, and sleep patterns were identified by the analyses might be explained by the Neanderthals’ adaptations to life at more northern latitudes, suggests Capra. But for other traits, he notes, determining how the effects seen in present-day people might once have affected Neanderthals themselves “is one of our crucial challenges.” For example, he says, “of course, Neanderthals were not smoking.” More.
Actually, we don’t know that Neanderthals were not smoking, only that they were probably not smoking tobacco, native to the Americas.
Here’s a question: Is what we are finding out about some of our ancient ancestors anything that was predicted earlier? If not, the UD News coffee room is still sourcing a recycler for splintered lecterns…
See also: Getting to know our inner Neanderthal
Neanderthal technology was hardly dumb