© Javier Trueba, Madrid Scientific Films
The oldest known human DNA found yet reveals human evolution was even more confusing than before thought, researchers say. The genetic material came from the bone of a hominin living in what is now the Sima de los Huesos in Northern Spain approximately 400,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene.
The oldest known human DNA found yet reveals human evolution was even more confusing than thought, researchers say.
The DNA, which dates back some 400,000 years, may belong to an unknown human ancestor, say scientists. These new findings could shed light on a mysterious extinct branch of humanity known as Denisovans
, who were close relatives of Neanderthals, scientists added.
Although modern humans are the only surviving human lineage, others once strode the Earth. These included Neanderthals
, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, and the relatively newfound Denisovans
, who are thought to have lived in a vast expanse from Siberia to Southeast Asia.
Research shows that the Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals but were genetically distinct, with both apparently descending from a common ancestral group that had diverged earlier from the forerunners of modern humans.
Genetic analysis suggests the ancestors of modern humans interbred with both these extinct lineages. Neanderthal DNA
makes up 1 to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes, and Denisovan DNA
makes up 4 to 6 percent of modern New Guinean and Bougainville Islander genomes in the Melanesian islands.