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Humans and Neanderthals Mated with Each Other, Much Earlier Than Thought

Update Date: Feb 22, 2016 09:46 AM EST

DNA analysis methods were used by the international team of researchers who discovered strong evidence of mating events between modern humans and the Neanderthals, thousands of years before than previously documented.

The study published in Nature provides evidence of interbreeding that happen as far back as 100,000 years ago. "It's been known for several years, following the first sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, that Neanderthals and humans must have interbred," says Professor Adam Siepel, a co-team leader and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) quantitative biologist. "But the data so far refers to an event dating to around 47,000-65,000 years ago, around the time that human populations emigrated from Africa. The event we found appears considerably older than that event."

Sergei added, "One very interesting thing about our finding is that it shows a signal of breeding in the 'opposite' direction from that already known."

"That is, we show human DNA in a Neanderthal genome, rather than Neanderthal DNA in human genomes," as reported by

Lead author, Sergei Castellano, evolutionary biologist at Max Planck University at for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said "This is the first genetic evidence that early modern humans met Neandertals and bred with them earlier than we thought," reported Science Mag

The findings of the study obtained by using number of advanced computer algorithms that compared complete genomes of hundreds of present-day humans with limited genomes of four ancient humans can explain a lot about the pattern of human migration.

The gene flow evidence found by the team of researchers between the descendants of modern humans and the Neanderthal genome is applicable only to one particular Neanderthal. This Neanderthal in question was found a few years ago in a cave located in Southwestern Siberia, Altai Mountains, near the border of Russia-Mongolia, says Heritage Daily


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