Researchers made an important discovery regarding Neanderthal DNA. In the Hohlenstein-Stadel cave, in southwest Germany, they stumbled upon an ancient human bone which offered them valuable information. After analyzing the bone, they found that, 220,000 years ago, a human species related to our own came into Europe, bred with Neanderthals, and left a permanent mark on their DNA.
- An ancient human bone found in a German cave highlights a new theory on Neanderthal DNA.
- Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA found a mix of Neanderthal and hominin traits.
- This hominin species closely resembles modern-day humans.
The ancient human bone was discovered eighty years ago and, back then, scientists thought it belonged to an extinct species of hominin. Only now were they able to perform an advanced analysis on the bone, and found out it actually belonged to a Neanderthal. All these findings have been gathered in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists were able to reach this conclusion after analyzing the mitochondrial DNA in the bone. Therefore, they established the age and the hominin group the specimen had belonged to. Since the bone was so old, the radiocarbon dating was not effective.
Results showed that this specimen diverged from other Neanderthal groups. This phenomenon took place 220,000 years ago. Also, scientists observed that the genetic diversity was more widespread among Neanderthals than they thought. Also, certain genetic traces in its mitochondrial DNA belonged to some hominins which closely resemble present-day humans.
Therefore, they proposed a theory stating that all mitochondrial DNA of Neanderthals is coming from a hominin population which left Africa between 470,000 and 220,000 years ago. This also reinforces the idea that this population underwent a moderate migration from the continent before the general dispersion of modern humans, which took place around 50,000 years ago.
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