Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Saturday, October 07, 2017

New evidence of possible early (c220,000 years ago) Neanderthal Homo Sapiens interbreeding

Interesting story in Science by Ann Gibbons (Neandertals and modern humans started mating early  Jul. 4, 2017 , 11:00 AM). The piece begins:
For almost a century, Neandertals were considered the ancestors of modern humans. But in a new plot twist in the unfolding mystery of how Neandertals were related to modern humans, it now seems that members of our lineage were among the ancestors of Neandertals. Researchers sequenced ancient DNA from the mitochondria—tiny energy factories inside cells—from a Neandertal who lived about 100,000 years ago in southwest Germany. They found that this DNA, which is inherited only from the mother, resembled that of early modern humans. 
After comparing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with that of other archaic and modern humans, the researchers reached a startling conclusion: A female member of the lineage that gave rise to Homo sapiens in Africa mated with a Neandertal male more than 220,000 years ago—much earlier than other known encounters between the two groups. Her children spread her genetic legacy through the Neandertal lineage, and in time her African mtDNA completely replaced the ancestral Neandertal mtDNA.
Anne's article is based on a 4 July 2017 report in Nature Communications, Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals by Cosimo Posth, Christoph Wißing, Keiko Kitagawa, Luca Pagani, Laura van Holstein, Fernando Racimo, Kurt Wehrberger, Nicholas J. Conard, Claus Joachim Kind, Hervé Bocherens and Johannes Krause.

I suggest reading Anne's piece first and then the source article. This includes some very interesting material, including methodology and qualifications.  


Johnb said...

A quote from an earlier Ann Gibbons article Jim.
“T​he researchers conclude that if you're an East Asian, you have three different Neandertals in your family tree; Europeans and South Asians have two, and Melanesians, only one. (Africans' ancestors, who did not mate with Neandertals, have none.)”.
I keep trying to fit this evidence into Time & Space to capture the journeys undertaken by these ancient people’s. That the necessary makings all took place outside Africa has to be a valid hypothesis. The only conclusion I can draw is that Neanderthals in all var.. evolved outside Africa at various locations in the Eurasian landmass. This mtDNA evidence may only apply to West European Neanderthals and as this mating occurred outside Africa how and where did this female arrive from. The newly found h.s.fossils from Morocco may be a better source for the lady than a continuing focus on the Middle East, we still have to explain how h.s. turned up in far North West Africa some 200k+ BP. I suspect ever more revolutionary findings are going to come over the next couple of decades.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi John. Like you, I have been trying to fit all this together. I agree with your conclusions as a working hypothesis. We wait for more research results!