1932

Abstract

Ancient DNA provides a powerful window into the biology of extant and extinct species, including humans’ closest relatives: Denisovans and Neanderthals. Here, we review what is known about archaic hominin phenotypes from genomic data and how those inferences have been made. We contend that understanding the influence of variants on lower-level molecular phenotypes—such as gene expression and protein function—is a promising approach to using ancient DNA to learn about archaic hominin traits. Molecular phenotypes have simpler genetic architectures than organism-level complex phenotypes, and this approach enables moving beyond association studies by proposing hypotheses about the effects of archaic variants that are testable in model systems. The major challenge to understanding archaic hominin phenotypes is broadening our ability to accurately map genotypes to phenotypes, but ongoing advances ensure that there will be much more to learn about archaic hominin phenotypes from their genomes.

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2022-08-31
2024-06-21
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