Human ancestors slept with Denisovans, Neanderthals and who knows what else

25 November 2013 - 12:37 By Times LIVE
A model representing a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory. File photo.
A model representing a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory. File photo.
Image: PIERRE ANDRIEU / AFP

Scientists sequencing the genomes of Neanderthals and Denisovans found that our ancestors bred quite happily with both - as well as an as yet unknown third hominim species

According to the news website for the journal Nature David Reich, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, along with collaborator Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany sequenced Denisovan and Neanderthal genomes based on bones from the Denisova cave.

The remains were left there from 30 000 and 50 000 years ago ago according to the report.

What they found was that the Denisovan weren't exactly picky about what they were sleeping with, breeding with Neanderthals, ancient humans and a third, unknown species.

“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a Lord of the Rings-type world - that there were many hominid populations,” said Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London, who wasn't involved with the research.

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