London, May 13 (ANI): A new study has found that Neanderthals were not the only other Homo species early Homo sapiens mixed with.
João Zilhão at the University of Bristol, UK, suggests H. sapiens migrated from Africa to meet and interbred with other Homo species that have now become extinct.
Swedish biologist Svante Svante Pääbo”s team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have found the first definitive evidence of interbreeding.
They reported last week that the genome of humans today is roughly 1 to 4 per cent Neanderthal.
The fact that all non-Africans have this percentage, suggests that H. sapiens and Neanderthals interbred sometime between 100,000 and 45,000 years ago, after the first humans left Africa but before they split into regional populations.
Another genetic study confirmed the suggestion made by Svante Pääbo”s team.
Jeffrey Long at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque presented results from nearly 100 modern human populations at a meeting of the American Association for Physical Anthropologists in April.
The experts found proof that Eurasians became genetically diverse by breeding with other Homo species after they left Africa, reports New Scientist.
Also, they observed a spike in genetic diversity in Indo-Pacific peoples, dating to around 40,000 years ago. Again, it”s unlikely the diversity came from H. sapiens interbred with Neanderthals, as the latter never travelled that far south.
Meanwhile, Zilhão”s team in Portugal discovered the 25,000-year-old bones of a child they are convinced is a human-Neanderthal hybrid. Zilhão says fossils from Romania and the Czech Republic also bear Neanderthal features, though others dispute this.
Moreover, decorative artefacts characteristic of humans have cropped up at Neanderthal sites, dated to around the time of contact with humans in Africa and the Middle East. Further east, 40,000-year-old human bones from a cave near Beijing, China, have features that recall other Homo species, says Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.
In March, Pääbo”s team reported the discovery of DNA from a hominin that is probably neither human nor Neanderthal that lived 50,000 to 30,000 years ago in a cave in southern Siberia. They dubbed the creature X-woman, and sequencing machines are already decoding its genome, says Pääbo”s colleague Ed Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Green does not wish to dismiss the idea that X-woman or its kind have bred with humans. (ANI)