Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints

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With the ongoing growth of gene-based research in recent decades, the possibility of examining changes that have taken place in structures over the course of evolution has become increasingly accessible. One intriguing subject at the forefront of evolutionary research is that of how environmental pressures affect species evolution through epigenetic adaptation. In this paper we present the available molecular components of adaptation to cold environments in two extinct mammals – the woolly mammoth and the Neanderthal. These two species co-existed in similar geographic and environmental European settings during the Middle and Upper Pleistocene and both were direct descendants of African ancestors, although both fully evolved and adapted in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. In order to assess the degree of resemblance between mammoth and Neanderthal genetic components we reviewed three case studies of relevant gene variants and alleles associated with cold-climate adaptation found in both genomes. Our observations present the likelihood of a molecular resemblance between the suites of cold adaptation traits in the two species, and we discuss their possible meaning for future research.