Neanderthals Weren’t Humans’ Only Mating Partners. Meet the Denisovans.

2

By Charles Q. Choi

The mysterious extinct human lineage known as the Denisovans may have interbred with modern humans in at least two separate waves, a new study finds.

The discovery suggests a more diverse evolutionary history than previously thought between Denisovans and modern humans.

Although modern humans are now the only human lineage left alive, others not only lived alongside modern humans, but even interbred with them, leaving behind DNA in the modern human genome. Such lineages not only included the Neanderthals, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, but also the mysterious Denisovans, known only from molars and a finger bone unearthed in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia.

Previous research found that while Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals, they were nearly as genetically distinct from Neanderthals as Neanderthals were from modern humans. Prior work also found Denisovans contributed DNA to several modern human groups — about 5 percent of their DNA to the genomes of people in Oceania, and about 0.2 percent to the genomes of mainland Asians and Native Americans.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

2 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Previous research found that while Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals,
    they were nearly as genetically distinct from Neanderthals as Neanderthals were from modern humans.
    Prior work also found Denisovans contributed DNA to several modern human groups — about 5 percent of their DNA to the genomes of people in Oceania,
    and about 0.2 percent to the genomes of mainland Asians and Native Americans.

    We can see from genetics, that there were hybrids in ancestral species of Homo, as well as the mainstream Homo sapiens line directly out of Africa.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45271644

    Cave girl was half Neanderthal, half Denisovan

    Once upon a time, two early humans of different ancestry met at a cave in Russia.

    Some 50,000 years later, scientists have confirmed that they had a daughter together.

    DNA extracted from bone fragments found in the cave show the girl was the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.

    The discovery, reported in Nature, gives a rare insight into the lives of our closest ancient human relatives.

    Neanderthals and Denisovans were humans like us, but belonged to different species.

    “We knew from previous studies that Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children together,” says Viviane Slon, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany.

    “But I never thought we would be so lucky as to find an actual offspring of the two groups.”

    The fact the genes have been passed down the generations shows that interbreeding must have happened.

    However, the only known site where fossil evidence of both Denisovans and Neanderthals has been found is at Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

    And very few – less than 20 – so-called archaic humans (those belonging to species other than our own, Homo sapiens) have had their genomes sequenced.

    Genetic tests also revealed that the Denisovan father had at least one Neanderthal ancestor further back in his family tree.

  2. Alan4discussion #1
    Aug 23, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Neanderthals and Denisovans were humans like us, but belonged to different species.

    The fact the genes have been passed down the generations shows that interbreeding must have happened.

    Two different species that interbreed. So maybe not separate species? Subspecies?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.