A Child of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan has Recently been Identified

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very first known to science offspring of two ancient relatives of a modern human, a Neanderthal and a Denisovan, has been identified based on a DNA collected from a finger bone belonging to a 13-year old girl who lived some 50,000 years ago. The mother of the child was a Neanderthal, a relatively well-known type of prehistoric people who were living in Eurasia between 450,000 and 40,000 years ago. However, her father was one of the Denisovans that were identified through some bits of bones and whose traces are still present in the DNA of modern humans.

A significant discovery

A study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature seems to prove what the scientists suspected for a very long time – that not only Homo sapiens interacted and interbred with other two ancient hominids, but also Neanderthals and Denisovans were doing the same with each other. Their research might also shed more light on the sudden disappearance of both relatives of modern humans.

A complex ancestry of Denisova 11

Thanks to the 40,000-years-old bones found in the Denisova cave in Siberia, we might understand better the process that led to the assimilation of the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes into the genome of Homo sapiens. The scientists analyzed a nuclear DNA of the 13-year-old girl, where they found two separate instances of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans. The mother of the child was a pure Neanderthal, but her father, a Denisovan, bore traces of Neanderthal ancestry. This clearly shows that even though they were rather rare, interactions and interbreeding between these hominids were happening.

It looks like when different ancient people did meet, they were able to recognize one another as humans, even though their genomes were quite different.


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