Sci-tech

Human hybrid - Ancient human relatives interbred with each other

Human hybrid - Ancient human relatives interbred with each other

Comparison with other ancient DNA showed that the genes she inherited from her mother were more closely related to Neanderthals who lived later in Europe than to other Neanderthal remains found in the cave, suggesting a wave of westward migration.

Dr Viviane Slon, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, said: 'We knew Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children together.

The researchers said the small bone fragment likely came from the arm or leg of a female who was at least 13 years old at the time of death.

While Neanderthals were found across Europe, the Near East and central Asia, the Denisovans are thought to have lived in East and South Asia, although there was clearly some overlap in their ranges.

Dr. Slon, Dr. Viola and their colleagues performed six DNA extractions from bone powder collected from the Denisova 11 specimen, produced ten DNA libraries from the extracts, and sequenced her genome.

However, despite the interbreeding, Neanderthals and Denisovans did not merge into a single group.

The common ancestor of Neanderthals and Denisovans split from the ancestor of modern homo sapiens over 744,000 years ago.

While Denny's parentage is the most groundbreaking finding from the 90,000-year-old genome, the study published in the journal Nature were able to discover key details about early hominin ancestry. But their DNA hinted at one union, at least: Denisova 3's genome, researchers discovered, contained traces of Neanderthal DNA.

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The sister groups are now understood to have diverged about 400,000 years ago, after their last common ancestor split with Homo sapiens at least 500,000 years ago.

Neanderthals and Denisovans, the closest extinct relatives of modern human, are hominins that separated from each other more than 390,000 years ago.

'While the Neanderthals are relatively well-represented from fossils across western Eurasia, the Denisovans are so far only known from bone fragments and a few teeth from one cave in Siberia, ' says Chris.

The team, led by palaeogeneticists Viviane Slon and Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, conducted the genome analysis on the bone fragment uncovered in the Denisova Cave in Russian Federation. Until now, scientists had discovered only four Denisovans; the fifth turned out to be a first-generation hybrid. There was just as much Denisovan DNA in the bone.

And they appear to have hooked up a lot more often than we thought, said David Lambert from the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University, who was not involved in the research. The more well-known Neanderthals were more present in the West, while the elusive Denisovans retreated to the East.

Broader interbreeding may have gained momentum when modern humans emerged from Africa roughly 70,000 years ago. About 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were replaced by humans.

Paabo wonders if it is a coincidence that these branches of humanity vanished from the fossil record shortly after modern humans showed up in their territories.

It's possible that modern human ancestors killed off the others, but equally possible that a small genetic advantage simply allowed modern humans to outbreed their cousins.


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