Turns Out Early Birds Are Just Neanderthals

stockfour / shutterstock.com
stockfour / shutterstock.com

Love waking up early in the morning? Finding yourself rising with the sun or before it pokes up with no alarm or issue?

Turns out, you’re likely not disciplined, but simply closer to your Neanderthal ancestors. According to a study published on December 14th in Genome Biology and Evolution, Neanderthals from Europe and Asia, for hundreds of years, adapted to the seasonal changes and rose with the sun.

Tony Capra is an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at the University of California, San Francisco Published research under the name John A. Capro, he was a co-author of the study.

Speaking to CNN, he said, “At higher latitudes, it is beneficial to have a body clock that is better able to anticipate and change to match the changing seasonal light levels. Having a ‘faster’ running clock facilitates this ability and it makes individuals more likely to rise early. We know from other species that live across broad ranges of latitude that their circadian clocks often adapt to the differences in light/dark cycles.”

Testing between the average humans now, a Neanderthal, and another early human called Denisovan through genomes, the researchers were able to pick out bits of genetic code that correspond to the body’s body clock and noted stark differences. These changes were noted in the genetic sequence, and how rapidly the human species has evolved as our needs have changed.

The largest inference discovered is how this evolution formed into two distinct patterns, with some as night owls, and some as early birds. Assigned to differing roles in society, the two tended to each other’s needs and ensured the survival of the species. While this is something society has shied away from making the norm, especially after COVID, it certainly explains the true need for 24-hour services.