Could Neanderthal Genes Be the Reason You Are Just So Hairy?

Two different studies find humans still have hair and skin DNA from cavemen

If you seem to spend as much time and money on waxing as you do on groceries, your great, great, great, great (add many more greats here) grandparents may be to blame.

So what if they’ve been extinct for 30,000 years? Those Neanderthal genes run strong.

Now, we’ve known for a while that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred at some point, but two separate new studies, one out of Harvard Medical School and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology published in Nature, and one out of the University of Washington published in Science, have found certain hair- and skin-related Neanderthal genes are still common today, The New York Times reports.

The Neanderthal gene found most often in humans, has to do with keratin, which controls skin and hair, according to the Los Angeles Times, although how the gene affects our looks is still unknown. (But going off those cavemen Geico commercials, we’re guessing we can blame coarse facial hair and tough skin on our grunting ancestors.)

"They are not fully extinct, if you will," the Max Planck Institute’s Svante Paabo, a genetist, tells the newspaper. "They live on in some of us today — a little bit."

Yep, there’s Grandma Neanderthal, right there on our upper lip. Well played, evolution. Well played.

Lesley Kennedy writes for Follow ShopAtHome on Twitter @shopathome and Lesley on Google+.

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