Human evolution News

“I married a Neanderthal!”

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG “Your honour, it was a long time ago, and I wasn’t old enough to make a sensible decision.”

Okay, seriously,  this from Science:

Members of our species had sex with Neandertals much earlier—and more often—than previously believed, according to a new study of ancient DNA. As some of the first bands of modern humans moved out of Africa, they met and mated with Neandertals about 100,000 years ago—perhaps in the fertile Nile Valley, along the coastal hills of the Middle East, or in the once-verdant Arabian Peninsula. This pushes back the earliest encounter between the two groups by tens of thousands of years and suggests that our ancestors were shaped in significant ways by swapping genes with other types of humans.

These early modern humans’ own lineages died out, and they are not among the ancestors of living people. But a small bit of their DNA survived in the toe bone of a Neandertal woman who lived more than 50,000 years ago in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, Russia. A new analysis of her ancient genome has found that this so-called “Altai” Neandertal inherited DNA from modern humans from Africa, including a gene that may have been involved in speech.

“This is the first genetic evidence that early modern humans met Neandertals and bred with them earlier than we thought,” says lead author Sergi Castellano, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.More.

It doesn’t sound like we know much about these early unions, and there will doubtless be surprises to come.

See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

and

A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?

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Vid below, for what it is worth, maybe needs air brush:

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