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Humans Had Sex Regularly With Mysterious Extinct Relatives in Africa


A new study of the human genome reveals modern humans interbred not only with Neanderthals but also with an extinct group of relatives in Africa.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our species may have bred with a now extinct lineage of humanity before leaving Africa, scientists say.

Although we modern humans are now the only surviving lineage of humanity, others once roamed the Earth, making their way out of Africa before our species did, including the familiar Neanderthals in West Asia and Europe and the newfound Denisovans in East Asia. Genetic analysis of fossils of these extinct lineages has revealed they once interbred with modern humans, unions that may have endowed our lineage with mutations that protected them as we began expanding across the world about 65,000 yeas ago.

Now researchers analyzing the human genome find evidence that our species hybridized with a hitherto unknown human lineage even before leaving Africa, with approximately 2 percent of contemporary African DNA perhaps coming from this lineage. In comparison, recent estimates suggest that Neanderthal DNA makes up 1 percent to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes and Denisovan DNA makes up 4 percent to 6 percent of modern Melanesian genomes. [Neanderthals Had Sex With Humans]

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TAGGED: EVOLUTION


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