Are you a caveman?

By Razib Khan | December 15, 2011 8:53 pm

23andMe finally unveiled a Neanderthal Ancestry estimation feature. I’m at ~2.4 percent. What I’m curious about is the fact that out of the 45 “friends and family” who are surveyed, only two are at 3 percent. One of my them is my sibling who I found seems to have the Neandertal copy of a dystrophin variant! I have hypothesized that this may be the reason for his relatively robust build (he looks a lot like me, except kind of Neandertaloid).  Also of curiosity, I’m the least Neandertal in my family, including my parents!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Personal Genomics
MORE ABOUT: Neandertal

Comments (26)

  1. joseph

    I’m actually the most neanderthal in any room

  2. OK, there are 7 billion people out there. What’s the probability that one of them is over 50% Neanderthal? Over 90%?

  3. #3, doesn’t that depend on the nature of the distribution?

  4. You can remove Africa from the population if you want, it won’t change the numbers very much. More important than demographic distribution, though, is the distribution of Neanderthal genes throughout the genome. Do we know anything about that?

  5. Justin Giancola

    It’s about time I got typed then.

  6. Charles Nydorf

    I’m 2.6% and phenotypically pretty Neanderthaloid.

  7. I was wondering if they would ever add something like this. A nice Christmas present!

    I’m 3.0%. I already knew I was ~1-4% Neandertal, but this makes it more real somehow.

  8. pconroy

    I’m 2.7%, my Dad 2.7%, my Mom is 2.5% and my daughter is 2.9% – all V2.
    My sister is 2.9 – V3

    Wife 2.3%, Wife’s Dad 2.3%, Wife’s grandmother 2.6% – all V2
    Wife’s Dad 2.5%, Wife’s Mom 2.7% – all V3

    So V3 is adding 0.2% more to results – at least is one sample – something to figure in when comparing.

    So the highest is my daughter at 2.9% V2, and while she doesn’t have a Neanderthal phenotype, her French/Italian grandfather did – he is stocky, short (5′ 7″) a great rugby player – played a position similar to a Running Back in American football – and was of the fastest sprinters France ever produced – he still holds the 60M sprint record he set about 50 years ago, when he was 17 yo.

    BTW, I’m sharing with about 1200 people at Basic, and 350 at Advanced, and when I look at the people with 3.2% Neanderthal, I see a slight preponderance of Russians in the results, plus a relative who is 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Vietnamese.

  9. 2.6% I played as a guard in high school football and assumed I would have had a higher percentage. I’ve certainly been accused of “Neanderthal behavior” often enough over the years!

  10. Alam

    I’m 2.7% 🙁

    But not stocky at all. Medium height and thin figure

  11. Alam


    However, we believe there is a number of shortcomings with this approach.
    First, there is no formal guarantee that these SNPs are indeed of Neanderthal origin.
    Then, even in the ideal case where all of the 180 SNPs are indeed of Neanderthal
    origin, they identify only 13 regions, the longest of which spans 160,000
    bases. This is two orders of magnitude lower than 1% of Neanderthal ancestry
    in ones genome. Therefore, the number of tag SNPs where one carries the Neanderthal
    allele has very little information on the total amount of Neanderthal
    ancestry one may have.

  12. rimon


    I’m tall with long limbs but with prominent bone structure everywhere: cheeks, jaw, hip bones etc. also I and some other family members have a very obvious bump on the back of our heads (occipital bun?) I always thought we just had some russian/central asian phenotype though.

    I’m sure this isn’t an original thought, but I always have thought that there is a “shnoz zone” from Europe all the way through India and Central Asia that might have be the rough range of the Neanderthals. compare the noses of the modern day inhabitants of this region to those of Asia and Africa. (except Japan, see the Ainu). You could also call it a hirsute zone, too.

  13. Alam: they do not use the 180 SNPs in the 23andme estimation, rather they use a PCA approach based on all SPNs as they explain in the white paper.

  14. ackbark

    I’m 2.5%

    Average customer: 2.5%

    This seems unexciting. I feel somehow I want to be either all the way caveman or 0%.

  15. dave chamberlin

    Makes me think there will eventually be a world wide winner of the most Neanderthal person alive, well it won’t be real news, unless Mr Most Neanderthal breeds with Mrs Most Neanderthal or the OctoMom. Enquirering minds will want to know.

  16. @rimon, now that you mention, I have some sort of occipital bun thing going on, too. Then again, aren’t occipital buns present in some Subsaharan populations as well? So, archaic feature, but not necessarily Neandertal?

  17. 2.0%. Is that the lowest?

  18. ogunsiron

    1.6% , 4th percentile.
    I’m 80% west african though and only 15% european ( western europe).

  19. Gnetum

    2.8%, which is 77th percentile for eastern Asians (avg 2.6%).

    I’m Korean.

  20. Sandgroper

    #13 – But modern Chinese have about the same Neanderthal admixture.

    Although John Hawks has recently noted some regional variation within China – but it’s not zero anywhere there.

  21. Nick

    3.1% = 98th percentile. 6 feet tall and always on the slim side, but I always thought my legs were rather short. Maybe most telling is that when I was a kid my dad’s baseball caps were way to small for my head… oh, and all that tree climbing.

  22. James

    The PCA clearly shows that East Asians, on average, are closest to the Neanderthals, whereas Europeans are in between Africans and East Asians in terms of Neanderthal admixture.

    The closest cluster towards the Chimpanzee component are the Africans, then South Asians, Europeans and East Asians at the other end of the spectrum.

    The Denisova component (PC2) is harder to tell but Eurasians are in between Neanderthals and Denisova.

  23. #23, where? which paper?

  24. pos

    I am sceptical to the notion that the differences reported e.g. here are intra-population differences in Neandertal ancestry and not just differences in similarity to the Neandertal reference data available.

    No studies so far have been able to show statistically significant differences in Neandertal ancestry between individuals from the same population. The apparent differences in analyses such as the PCA in the 23andme paper could be attributed to sampling variance. For example, West Africans also display variance in the similarity to the Neandertal data (see e.g. John Hawks recent post), even though under the current model they have no Neandertal ancestry.

    When admixture occurred so long ago it is expected that it will homogenize in the population over time. Even though there could definitely be small differences we probably need more data from multiple Neandertals to accurately assess this.

  25. I was 2.9% (which 23andme reported as being in the 91st percentile). My phenotype is not “neanderthoid” at all — skinny and a little above-average in height.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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