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Neanderthals Bred With Modern Humans, Study Suggests

Update Date: Apr 09, 2014 10:53 AM EDT
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Neanderthals interbred with ancestors of Eurasians, a new genome analysis in a recent study has suggested. 

The study explains how Neanderthals most likely interbred with modern humans after they migrated out of Africa. The technique described in the study also rules out the popular theory that suggested humans who left Africa evolved from the same ancestral subpopulation where Neanderthals evolved from.

"Our approach can distinguish between two subtly different scenarios that could explain the genetic similarities shared by Neanderthals and modern humans from Europe and Asia," Konrad Lohse, study co-author and population geneticist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a statement.

The technique evolved by researchers used one genome from Neanderthals, Eurasians, Africans and chimpanzees instead comparing genomes from many modern humans and that made all the difference.

"We did a bunch of math to compute the likelihood of two different scenarios," Laurent Frantz, study co-author and evolutionary biologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, told The Verge. "We were able to do that by dividing the genome in small blocks of equal lengths from which we inferred genealogy."

The technique was evolved after studying the history of insect population in Europe and rare pig species in Southeast Asia. 

"This work is important because it closes a hole in the argument about whether Neanderthals interbred with humans. And the method can be applied to understanding the evolutionary history of other organisms, including endangered species," Mark Johnston, editor-in-chief of the journal Genetics, said, as quoted by IB Times.

"There have been a lot of arguments about what happened to these species," added Frantz. "Some think that we outcompeted [other hominins] or that they were killed by humans, but now we can see that it's not that simple."

The findings of the study is published in the journal Genetics

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