I’m always fascinated by human evolution and the genetic legacy of our ancestors. Now we know that modern humans may carry Neanderthal genes, which I find astonishing and a deeply moving reminder of our connection to other, now-extinct, humans.
by Matthew Cobb
As regular readers will know, some of the most astonishing discoveries in the whole of science that have occurred over the last few years have been with regard to our understanding of recent human evolution.
In the last five years we have not only sequenced the genome of an extinct form of human, generally known as Neanderthal man, we have also used genomics to prove the existence of another human population, called the Denisovans after the name of the cave in Siberia where one tooth and a little girl’s finger bone – our only physical traces of this type of human – were found.
Studies of these genomes, using the kind of analysis we talked about yesterday, have revealed the amazing fact that our human ancestors mated with both Neanderthals and Denisovans. We know this because we can find traces of the genomes of both these extinct types in modern humans.
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