From Scientific American:
A 45,000-year-old leg bone from Siberia has yielded the oldest genome sequence for Homo sapiens on record — revealing a mysterious population that may once have spanned northern Asia. The DNA sequence from a male hunter-gatherer also offers tantalizing clues about modern humans’ journey from Africa to Europe, Asia and beyond, as well as their sexual encounters with Neanderthals.
His kind might have remained unknown were it not for Nikolai Peristov, a Russian artist who carves jewellery from ancient mammoth tusks. In 2008, Peristov was looking for ivory along Siberia’s Irtysh River when he noticed a bone jutting from the riverbank. He dug it out and showed it to a police forensic scientist, who identified it as probably human.
The bone turned out to be a human left femur, and eventually made it to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where researchers carbon-dated it.
The more precise dates for Neanderthal–human mating pose a challenge for scientists who have proposed that modern humans left Africa before 100,000 years ago and reached Asia more than 75,000 years ago, says Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at London’s Natural History Museum. Those researchers, who include Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, UK, have pointed to H. sapiens-like bones from the Levant that are older than 100,000 years and to 70,000-year-old stone tools found in India as evidence for an early human exodus to Asia along a southern coastal route that eventually reached Oceania and Australia.
See also: Neanderthal man: You got the news, right?
and Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
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