Genetic evidence of modern human DNA in a Neanderthal — Huh? Wha?

Using several different methods of DNA analysis, an international research team has found what they consider to be strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans that occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than any other such event previously documented.

…In NATURE the team publishes evidence of interbreeding that occurred an estimated 100,000 years ago. More specifically the scientists provide the first genetic evidence of a scenario in which early modern humans left the African continent and mixed with archaic (now-extinct) members of the human family prior to the migration “out of Africa” of the ancestors of present-day non-Africans, less than 65,000 years ago.

❝ “It’s been known for several years, following the first sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, that Neanderthals and humans must have interbred,” says Professor Adam Siepel, a co-team leader and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) quantitative biologist. “But the data so far refers to an event dating to around 47,000-65,000 years ago, around the time that human populations emigrated from Africa. The event we found appears considerably older than that event…”

❝ “One very interesting thing about our finding is that it shows a signal of breeding in the ‘opposite’ direction from that already known,” Siepel notes. “That is, we show human DNA in a Neanderthal genome, rather than Neanderthal DNA in human genomes.”

This finding, the result of several kinds of advanced computer modeling algorithms comparing complete genomes of hundreds of contemporary humans with complete and partial genomes of four archaic humans, has implications for our knowledge of human migration patterns.

The article proceeds from this point to examination of several intertwining themes of interbreeding between different strands of the evolutionary vines that tie us all to our species. A worthwhile read.

It also validates a theme long held as strong among my Highland antecedents – whether critical or not – that our species [and any near relative] is ready to have sex with anyone willing to stand still long enough to enjoy it.

3 thoughts on “Genetic evidence of modern human DNA in a Neanderthal — Huh? Wha?

  1. Go figure says:

    “The archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA that persists in modern individuals from the Pacific islands of Melanesia could be a source of new information about early human history, according to a report published this Thursday in the Early Release edition of “Science”. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uowh-add031616.php “Denisovans are related to, but distinct from, Neanderthals. This prehistoric species was discovered less than a decade ago through genetic analysis of a finger bone unearthed in northern Siberia. Named for the mountain cave where that fossil, and later, two teeth, were found, Denisovans became a new addition to our ancient cousins on the evolutionary tree. Substantial amounts of Denisovan DNA have been detected in the genomes of only few present-day human populations so far. They are all living in Oceania, thousands of miles away from that Siberian cave.”

  2. Update says:

    “Early Humans Mated With Neanderthal Relative Denisovans At Least 2 Times” http://www.techtimes.com/articles/223092/20180316/early-humans-mated-neanderthal-relatives-denisovans-2-times.htm (Includes “History of the human face: Video shows six million year evolution of the face of man”)
    A new study published in Cell shows that there are two different regions in Asia where humans contain the Denisovan DNA. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180315140718.htm This finding indicates that the Denosivans had sexual encounter with humans on two occasions. Scientists compared the Denisovan genome to 5,600 whole-genome sequences of people from Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Oceania. Results from the comparison show two different populations of Denisovans, one in Asia and one in Oceania. A Denisovan population was already known to live in Oceania. People from Papua New Guinea were found to contain about 5 percent Denisovan ancestry. The new population of Denisovans is found to be from East Asia, which includes the Han Chinese, Chinese Dai, and Japanese people. They were a much closer match for Denisovan DNA than the Papuan people.

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