Approximately 50,000 years ago, modern humans encountered Neanderthals and interbred. The consequences of these cross-species coital trysts on human populations today is starting to become clearer: Scientists believe that one to three percent of the genomes of modern Eurasians are derived from Neanderthal DNA, a genetic inheritance that’s been associated with increased depression risk, certain skin and blood conditions, and an increased likelihood of nicotine addiction.

The way those ancient genes got into our gene pool, however, wasn’t exactly straightforward.

On Friday, Vanderbilt University professor Tony Capra, Ph.D. graduate student Corrine Simonti presented unpublished research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Human Genetics showing that those ancient genes were at first lost — and later returned to the modern human gene pool.

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