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Smoke tolerance may have given us a leg up on Neandertals

Harnessing fire for light, warmth, and cooking was a key event in hominin prehistory—but the smoke could have been disastrous for Neandertals and other ancient hominins in terms of survival and reproduction, New Scientist reports. They may have lacked a gene mutation that modern humans carry that offers some protection against cancer-causing chemicals found in wood smoke. After inserting the gene from Neandertals, living humans, and one 45,000-year-old human into animal cells and exposing them to carcinogens, the Neandertal cells were significantly more likely to experience a toxic effect

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