Previous research has identified potential genes that help the Greenland Inuit generate heat from a specific type of body fat. A new study analyzed a large sample of genetic data to trace origins of these adaptations. The genomic data used in the study was collected from nearly 200 Greenlandic Inuits and compared to the 1000 Genomes Project and ancient hominid DNA from Neanderthals and Denisovans. Authors speculate the Denisovan genome in particular played a large role in this adaptation for cold temperatures. The evidence adds to recent examples of ancient interbreeding that may have conferred unique adaptive traits to modern humans.


Fernando Racimo, David Gokhman, Matteo Fumagalli, Amy Ko, Torben Hansen, Ida Moltke, Anders Albrechtsen, Liran Carmel, Emilia Huerta-Sánchez and Rasmus Nielsen

Corresponding author:

Fernando Racimo, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, US, Email:

Original paper published in Molecular Biology and Evolution on December 21, 2016.