Viruses influenced gene sharing between Neanderthals and humans

This is going to really challenge the RTB model:

Human evolution used to be depicted as a straight line, gradually progressing from an ape-like ancestor to modern Homo sapiens. But thanks to next-generation sequencing, findings in recent years have shown that it wasn’t quite so orderly. Now, a new study is reporting new details about the role of viruses in shaping evolution, in particular viral interactions between modern humans and Neanderthals.

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Viruses! Now we’re talking.

I first thought, based on the headline, that maybe this would be about some sort of retrovirus-mediated horizontal gene transfer. But viruses as a source of selective pressure is interesting too, and probably has a more significant contribution to recent human evolution.

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This makes me think of the CCR5 mutations the confer resistance to HIV. Imagine if HIV had entered the human population 3,000 or even 300 years ago?

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Indeed. Actually, there is some evidence that the CCR5 allele which provides HIV resistance was originally selected for because of smallpox.

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