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Could oldest human genome rewrite history?

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Scientists have sequenced the oldest human DNA ever, extracted from 430,000-year-old samples of fossilised tooth and a thigh bones, found in Spain’s Sima de los Huesos, which translates to “pit of bones”.

In doing so, the team from Germany has found evidence that the ancient ancestors of modern humans must have split from the ancestors of Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years earlier than we thought, which means it might be time for us to redraw the human family tree.
Located in the Cueva Mayor-Cueva del Silo cave system in north-central Spain, the Sima de los Huesos archaeological site contains the largest and oldest collection of human remains ever discovered, with more than 6,500 fossilised bone fragments – including over 500 teeth alone – from at least 28 individual hominins having been uncovered so far.More.

But we are told that we have high level of Neanderthal genes as well. So …

This discovery had two significant implications: at least one individual buried in the Sima de los Huesos site was a) not directly related to Neanderthals, and b) was instead directly related to the Denisovans, but existed hundreds of thousands of years earlier than the Denisovans themselves.

So knowing that, who were these Sima hominins exactly, and what do they mean for our understanding of human evolution?

It sounds like the current ancestral human genome claims are a big mess. Probably not of interest, but just for information: If anybody fronted a story this loosely grounded in fact to an old-fashioned night desk editor at a respectable newspaper, they would have been turfed down the back stairs. Why is “human evolution” given a pass?

This means it’s time to start looking for a population of human ancestors that lived between 700,000 to 900,000 years ago to find out where we came from, palaeoanthropologist at University College London, Maria Martinón-Torres told Callaway at Nature Magazine: “She thinks that Homo antecessor, known from 900,000-year-old remains from Spain, is the strongest candidate for the common ancestor, if such specimens can be found in Africa or the Middle East.”

And so, with more knowledge about our incredibly complicated family tree comes less certainty, but that’s the beauty of the scientific method at work.

Okay: “And so, with more knowledge about our incredibly complicated family tree comes less certainty, but that’s the beauty of the scientific method at work.”

So true. But one can’t have less certainty and rigid dogmatism at the same time. Stay turned for more on the rethinking evolution meet.

See also: Human evolution, the skinny

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3 Replies to “Could oldest human genome rewrite history?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Functional Proteins and Information for Body Plans – Stephen Meyer – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1140536289292636/?type=2&theater

    A Closer Look At Human/Chimp Similarities and Differences – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1134643976548534/?type=2&theater

    An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer
    TT: Is the idea of an original human couple (Adam and Eve) in conflict with science? Does DNA tell us anything about the existence of Adam and Eve?
    SM: Readers have probably heard that the 98 percent similarity of human DNA to chimp DNA establishes that humans and chimps had a common ancestor. Recent studies show that number dropping significantly. More important, it turns out that previous measures of human and chimp genetic similarity were based upon an analysis of only 2 to 3 percent of the genome, the small portion that codes for proteins. This limited comparison was justified based upon the assumption that the rest of the genome was non-functional “junk.” Since the publication of the results of something called the “Encode Project,” however, it has become clear that the noncoding regions of the genome perform many important functions and that, overall, the non-coding regions of the genome function much like an operating system in a computer by regulating the timing and expression of the information stored in the “data files” or coding regions of the genome. Significantly, it has become increasingly clear that the non-coding regions, the crucial operating systems in effect, of the chimp and human genomes are species specific. That is, they are strikingly different in the two species. Yet, if alleged genetic similarity suggests common ancestry, then, by the same logic, this new evidence of significant genetic disparity suggests independent separate origins. For this reason, I see nothing from a genetic point of view that challenges the idea that humans originated independently from primates,
    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/.....-conflict/

  2. 2
    EDTA says:

    >which means it might be time for us to redraw the human family tree.

    Again?? Yawn…

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Just how are we related to our chimp cousins? 16 March 2016
    It’s the original missing link: the extinct ape that is the common ancestor of chimps and humans. But we still don’t know what it looked like
    Excerpt: Astonishing fossils are found every year, but the original “missing link” remains as hopelessly elusive as ever. Where is the last common ancestor of humans and chimps? “I would love to know,” says Sergio Almécija of the George Washington University in Washington DC. “That question is keeping me awake at night.”
    On the face of it, there is good reason to think that the last creature from which both humans and chimps – our closest cousins – can claim descent might eventually be found. After all, we have a pretty good idea when and where it was dragging its knuckles, or swinging through the trees. “It is universally accepted that the last common ancestor of chimps and humans lived in Africa, probably around 7 million years ago,” says David Alba of the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology in Barcelona, Spain.
    The bad news is that any evidence of this animal will be very, very hard to find. After decades of searching we have a reasonably rich collection of fossils of our hominin ancestors, stretching back 4 million years. But fossil evidence of anything earlier than that would barely fill a couple of shoe boxes.
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2081012-just-how-are-we-related-to-our-chimp-cousins/

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