Multiple Lines of Mysterious Ancient Humans Interbred with Us

Our family tree is getting bushier with each new study!

Today, a study published in CELL draws on DNA analysis of living Southeast Asians to show that a fourth species of humans lived alongside modern humans, Denisovans, and Neanderthals . What’s more, the Denisovans were surprisingly diverse and may have been the last group to live beside modern humans, contributing to the DNA of modern humans as recently as 15,000 years ago.

Article: Maya Wei-Haas, National Geographic
Image text: Jason Treat and Maya Wei-Haas, NG Staff
Image source: Murray P. Cox, Massey University

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New Hominin Shakes the Family Tree—Again

Evolutionary anthropologist John Hawks shares his thoughts on the meaning of the latest discovery in the human family tree: a previously undiscovered new species of human relatives named Homo luzonensis after the island in the Philippines where they lived.

This post to the Sapiens.org anthropology blog, puts the finding in perspective: over the past 20 years there’s been a boom of unprecedented new discoveries. Not all may merit the label “new species” but they speak to many-branched human tree and many opportunities for new exploration.

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Surprise! 20 Percent of Neanderthal Genome Lives On in Modern Humans, Scientists Find

“When modern humans migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, they found the Eurasian continent already inhabited by brawny, big-browed Neanderthals. We know that at least some encounters between the two kinds of human produced offspring, because the genomes of people living outside Africa today are composed of some 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Two studies published concurrently in Nature and Science on Wednesday suggest that while the Neanderthal contribution to our genomes was modest, it may have proved vitally important.” (Ed Yong, National Geographic)

Image comparing Neanderthal and modern human anatomy by Joe McNally.

It’s no coincidence that this is the month we began writing ANYA and that ANYA’s fictional geneticist, “Dr. Seymour Livingston,” studies Neanderthal DNA.

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