Middle East tryst: Hominins and Neanderthals may have mated 410,000+ years ago

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[In a recent study, scientists examined the] Neanderthal mitochondrial genome from a femur that was excavated in 1937 from the Hohlenstein-Stadel (HST) cave site in southwestern Germany. This new genome brings the total number of Neanderthals from whom we have genetic information to eighteen.

The HST genome may resolve a longstanding point of confusion regarding the evolutionary relationships between modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. We actually get different histories for the three groups depending on whether we analyze their mitochondrial (maternally inherited) or nuclear (bi-parentally inherited) genomes.Nuclear DNA indicates that Neanderthals and Denisovans were more closely related to one another than to humans…

However, mitochondrial DNA (inherited exclusively maternally) shows a different pattern: humans and Neanderthals appear to be more closely related to each other, and the Denisovans are a more distant cousin group.

The nuclear DNA story is most likely the correct one…But why does the mitochondrial DNA disagree?

Using this new mitochondrial genome in their analyses, researchers found it was indeed plausible that some hominins may have migrated out of Africa and interbred with Neanderthals sometime between 413,000 and 270,000 years ago, perhaps in the Middle East. This event would have significantly predated the major Out-of-Africa human migration, which is currently thought to have occurred around 75,000 years ago.

[Read the full study here]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Did human women contribute to Neanderthal genomes over 200,000 years ago?

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