Ancestors of Modern Humans Interbred With Extinct Hominins, Study Finds

Mar 19, 2016

Photo credit: Credit European Pressphoto Agency

By Carl Zimmer

The ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals and another extinct line of humans known as the Denisovans at least four times in the course of prehistory, according to an analysis of global genomes published Thursday in the journal Science.

The interbreeding may have given modern humans genes that bolstered immunity to pathogens, the authors concluded.

“This is yet another genetic nail in the coffin of our oversimplistic models of human evolution,” said Carles Lalueza-Fox, a research scientist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved in the study.

The new study expands on a series of findings in recent years showing that the ancestors of modern humans once shared the planet with a surprising number of near relatives — lineages like the Neanderthals and Denisovans that became extinct tens of thousands of years ago.

Before disappearing, however, they interbred with our forebears on at least several occasions. Today, we carry DNA from these encounters.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/22/science/neanderthals-interbred-with-humans-denisovans.html

5 comments on “Ancestors of Modern Humans Interbred With Extinct Hominins, Study Finds

  • I love this stuff, but I recognise that I am being self-indulgent. There are just too many “maybe’s” and “might’s” in the article to give it any real credibility at this stage. That a paper has been published on the subject is more a reflection of the greasy pole that researchers in academia have to climb and the byzantine funding regimes than a representation of real discovery.

    I suggest this necessary research is at this stage only at the point of refining the hypotheses rather than hardening any embryonic theories.

    Nevertheless, keep it coming.



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  • @OP – The new study expands on a series of findings in recent years showing that the ancestors of modern humans once shared the planet with a surprising number of near relatives — lineages like the Neanderthals and Denisovans that became extinct tens of thousands of years ago.

    Before disappearing, however, they interbred with our forebears on at least several occasions. Today, we carry DNA from these encounters.

    Back-crossing of diverging species and sub-species, is very common, particularly where once separated populations are migrating through changing territories and habitats.

    It is one of the things which makes mapping of species difficult, where there are no clear-cut geographical boundaries.

    By Carl Zimmer

    BTW:- It’s nice to see another science article from Carl Zimmer on the site!



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  • It’s interesting to watch the reaction of the sanctimonious holier than thou to statements like this one from the article above:

    they interbred with our forebears on at least several occasions.

    Religion translator: Our exalted chosen by God selves had sex with monkeys and disgusting brutish Neanderthals. Oh the horror of it all! I can’t fit this into my lifelong cherished delusion so I have no choice but to react with aggressive defensive reaction. Spewing hate on the source of this information is what I’m programed to do next.



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