What your Neanderthal heritage means for your health
So far, scientists have discovered links between Neanderthal genes and more than a dozen modern human traits, the most intriguing of which are depression and nicotine use.
These sorts of connections highlight the sort of speculative scientific work that comes with genetic studies. For example, could a Neanderthal propensity to develop dry, patchy skin after years of solar exposure mean that their descendants somehow don't get enough vitamin D from the sun? We know that a lack of sun exposure is correlated with depression, so maybe the two are connected.
Even stranger is the link to tobacco use, which you know from basic history doesn't make too much sense, since tobacco was exclusively a New World crop before the colonization of the Americas by Europeans. Were mood disorders simply more common among Neanderthals, and if so, why?