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When Did Humans and Neanderthals First Have Sex?

Update Date: Oct 24, 2014 04:21 PM EDT

Fifty thousand to 60,000 years ago, a recently discovered ancient bone shows.

Existing estimates of such mating are considered vague as they point to a time between 36,000 years and 86,000 years. The recent discovery of a Homo sapiens femur in Ust'-Ishim town of Siberia which was radiocarbon dated and found to be 45,000 years old, has helped scientists arrive at the conclusion that humans and Neanderthals mated around 50,000 years to 60,000 years ago, IB Times reported. The bone's DNA was sequence at Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

When scientists extracted DNA from the femur (thigh bone) they found it containing about 2 percent Neanderthal DNA, roughly the same amount that exists in modern day humans. However on closer analysis of DNA fragments, researchers were able to pinpoint the chronological time his earliest Neanderthal ancestor existed. With every passing generation, DNA fragments and counting the fragments gives the number of generations that have elapsed from a specific generation.

" This is the earliest directly dated modern human outside of Africa and the Middle East, and the oldest modern human [genome] to have been sequenced," said study's co-author Janet Kelso, according to Fox News.

According to New Scientist, the time period of mating between Homo sapiens and modern humans happened at a time when complex tools, music and culture developed.  

"This new paper definitively says it was modern humans with modern human behavior that interbred with Neanderthals," said David Reich from Harvard University who was part of the study.

The researchers also said the discovery sheds light on early human migration.

"The Ust'-Ishim man represents a group that settled Siberia and then disappeared without leaving descendants. This tells us that as early humans left Africa and settled Eurasia they weren't all successful. There were more populations than we thought, some making no contribution to living people at all," said Darren Curnoe, according to New Scientist. 

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