Humans didn’t just get it on with Neanderthals, it seems.
Full disclosure, I am a proud member of the Neanderthal community, with 4 percent of my DNA being from that noble race of hominins.
In addition to Neanderthals, it now seems that humans have also mated with another hominin, the Denisovans. Apparently, humans co-mingled with the ancient race on at least two separate occasions.
|Humans mated with strange Denisovan species more than once: Study|
Our ancestors not only mated with Neanderthals but also another mysterious ancient species of hominins, the Denisovans, on two separate occasions, according to a new study.
In a paper published on Thursday in the journal Cell, scientists at the University of Washington showed that more than 50,000 years ago, the now extinct subspecies of human, Denisovans, lived in Asia and apparently co-existed with modern humans.
The study also said the interbreeding between modern humans and Denisovans happened in two separate instances.
“This is a breakthrough paper,” David Reich, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard University told the Washington Post. “It’s a definite third interbreeding event,” he said.
Denisovans, who are close cousins of modern humans and Neanderthals, were first described in 2010 after the discovery of a finger bone fragment of a young woman who lived about 41,000 years ago, found in a Siberian cave.
The DNA extracted from the fragments showed it was neither Neanderthals or modern human — it was Denisovan. The genome also suggested that the species lived among and interbred with the ancestors of some modern humans.
Since the discovery, scientists have been seeking DNA and looking for interbreeding evidence between the two species. This is because researchers had already found a lot of evidence saying Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals multiple times.
As a result, in 2014 it was found that five percent of the Denisovan genome lives on in parts of some Australian people.
But now the study has identified surprising new details about the interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Denisovan — that different populations of the two hominins interbred multiple times.