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Asked • 03/27/19

Origin, or source, of rhesus negative in human blood?

This is my first post here, so please be gentle. I recently learned that I have Rh- blood (I'm A-), and was idly looking into blood types on Wikipedia. I was surprised to find that relatively few (~15% of all) humans have it, and most of those seem to be European. Looking just a little further, I found a bunch of crackpot-looking sites that try to explain how people got Rh- blood, and what weird abilities they possess as a result. I managed to find one site that seemed at least less laughable, which suggested that interbreeding with *Homo neanderthalensis* (or possibly *Homo sapiens neanderthalensis*, since the site seemed to indicate that there was some question about how different *H. s. sapiens* were from *H. neanderthalensis*) might have accounted for the introduction of the condition. It seems that from more reputable (medical) sources, the only difference between Rh+ and Rh- is that complications can arise during pregnancy if the mother is Rh- and the fetus is Rh+. Indeed, most sites (e.g., WebMD) seem to explicitly state that there are no other differences of note. I am not a biologist, or an anthropologist, or a life-science kind of guy at all. However, as a computer scientist, I like to think that I have both an open mind but one which demands scientific and/or logico-mathematical evidence for claims. Lots of the pseudo-scientific, paranormal, etc. theories on the web I basically dismiss out of hand, as explanations which are almost certainly fantasies, but most definitely baseless and untestable. My question: What, if any, is the current scientific understanding of the origin, or source, of rhesus negative blood in human beings? Do individuals with Rh- blood have any common (in a statistically significant sense) characteristics or health issues, aside from the issue with pregnancy and tending to be more European than not? Is there anything to continuing to look into this? For context, I got started down this rabbit hole while looking into different dieting strategies, and found the "blood type diet". Just as an aside, I don't think there's a lot of merit to that diet... sounds like a fad thing. Any sources or information or help on this subject are appreciated.

1 Expert Answer

By:

Lauren H. answered • 03/30/19

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4.8 (24)

Experienced High School Chemistry Teacher

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