Mystery Humans Spiced up Ancients’ Rampant Sex Lives

Ewen Callaway, Nature, November 19, 2013

New genome sequences from two extinct human relatives suggest that these ‘archaic’ groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known.

The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

{snip}

All humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals; and certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, got about 4% of their DNA from interbreeding between their ancestors and Denisovans, who are named after the cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains where they were discovered. The cave contains remains deposited there between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Those conclusions however were based on low-quality genome sequences, riddled with errors and full of gaps, David Reich, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts said at the meeting. His team, in collaboration with Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now produced much more complete versions of the Denisovan and Neanderthal genomes—matching the quality of contemporary human genomes. The high-quality Denisovan genome data and new Neanderthal genome both come from bones recovered from Denisova Cave.

The new Denisovan genome indicates that this enigmatic population got around: Reich said at the meeting that they interbred with Neanderthals and with the ancestors of human populations that now live in China and other parts of East Asia, in addition to Oceanic populations, as his team previously reported. Most surprisingly, Reich said, the new genomes indicate that Denisovans interbred with another extinct population of archaic humans that lived in Asia more than 30,000 years ago, which is neither human nor Neanderthal.

The meeting was abuzz with conjecture about the identity of this potentially new population of humans. “We don’t have the faintest idea,” says Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the work. He speculates that the population could be related to Homo heidelbergensis, a species that left Africa around half a million years ago and later gave rise to Neanderthals in Europe. “Perhaps it lived on in Asia as well,” Stringer says.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Homo_Occidentalis

    Asians, Caucasians, Australoids, etc. are subspecies of mankind, just as poodles, chihuahuas, and great danes are subspecies of the wolf.

    • Spartacus

      If you had to choose – Would you rather be bitten by a poodle, or by a wolf?

      • Homo_Occidentalis

        I’m not sure either is a desirable proposition. I view wolves as the canine equivalent of Africans, as they are the most genetically diverse, and are the race from which all others descended. But while the wolf has remained has remained unchanged in its feral state, every other race of canid has evolved to meet a human need.

        Africans are likewise a stone age peoples who have changed little in the past 100,000 years. Meanwhile, their kin settled harsher climes and adapted to their new conditions, while mixing with the Denisovans/Neanderthals.

        • Anon

          Blacks aren’t feral, they are evil. There is a huge difference.

          Wolves, in their feral state, work together as a pack, mate for life, obey their leader and flourish when left alone.

          Blacks murder, rape and eat each other whenever the white man’s law is not kept with a jackboot on the back of their neck, right at that moment. Left to their own devices, it would be a competition to see which kills more of them….starvation or their own wicked behavior.

          Also, you analogy is offensive. Wolves are beautiful, majestic creatures that tend to mind their own business and not bother humans. Blacks are foul beyond belief and have infested our lands and actively sought us out to cause us harm since the first white man peered through the bush and spotted what he thought was a retarded gorilla.

        • ThatguyinTN

          Come on man don’t insult wolves like that. They are beautiful creatures. Not to mention I think they would be extremely more easily domesticated than your average african.

        • Emperor Naked

          This post is a great example of poor logic based on false assumptions. Wolves are not more genetically diverse, dogs are, just as Negro genes are less diverse (not even the right word) actually less mutated than whites, for example. “Diverse” is used in genetic discussions in relationship to mutations in dna.

          Your second paragraph is more accurate. Whites could be said to be the “latest” model in the evolutionary process due to the extant number of mutations. This was due to a very long term geographic isolation and likely subcultures that favored lighter skinned mates (as seems universal). But Negro dna represents that oldest, most undifferentiated of all races and sub-racial groups, meaning less diverse. Reason, they remained in Africa and did not mix with Neanderthals (and Denisovans) and then underwent mutations likely fired by isolation in temperate climates that forced them to be innovative.

          The good news is that race mixing increases, the amount of diverse genes reduces and eventually no evolutionary way forward exists. The authors of “Before the Dawn” speculate that this could lead to the emergence of actual new species that would not be able to breed with others and could only reproduce by seeking out another one of their own species. Or to put it another way, the ones that remained the most unmixed would not be able to reproduce with the genetically stagnant mixed.

      • Garrett Brown

        A miniature poodle.

  • Alexandra1973

    There were no such things as Neanderthals, that’s already been proven. At least not what your average Joe thinks is a Neanderthal.

    However, take a look at the 6th chapter of Genesis. The Bible talks about giants before and after the Flood…I’ve read about people born with six digits on each hand and/or foot and it’s supposed to be a genetic throwback. Maybe it’s this race…?

    There have been giant skeletons found here in Ohio. In fact a nearby town, Seville, has a giants festival every fall, there was this giant couple that used to live there.

    • freddy_hills

      I’ve read about people born with six digits on each hand and/or foot and
      it’s supposed to be a genetic throwback. Maybe it’s this race…?

      It’s unlikely because no other primate or even monkey has 6 fingers. They all have 4 fingers and a thumb just like us. Hands evolved before these various species diverged.

      • Alexandra1973

        How did the eye evolve?

        How about reproductive systems?

        Just tossing that out. I do not believe in evolution.

        I have noticed that professing Christians toss out race realism because Darwin was racist or something like that. I’m a Christian AND a race realist.

        • freddy_hills

          I’m agnostic and think the evidence supports evolution. But I won’t argue with you. It doesn’t bother me whether you’re religious or believe in evolution. More power to you.

          • Alexandra1973

            At any rate, blacks are the way they are because their ancestor was cursed. Race realism is Biblical.

            Let me toss this out: If there were no God, and we could do whatever we wanted…then why would it matter if there’s miscegenation or anything like that? How about morals?

            Just something to think about. I’ve said my peace.

          • freddy_hills

            It’s not difficult to see how instincts that promote self preservation could have evolved. That’s morality.

          • Sick of it

            My archaeology professor disagreed with you. But he’s seen the fossil record all over the world.

          • freddy_hills

            The fossil record is the least convincing evidence either for against evolution. No one should base their opinion solely on it either way.

          • Garrett Brown

            I’m at the same crossroads. To say there is absolutely something up there is as ignorant as saying there absolutely isn’t. Everyone on this earth knows as much as I do, which is nothing. Nothing on this earth proves there is or isn’t an omnipotent being watching over us. So I simply say “I don’t know”. I’m agnostic when it comes to religion, but I am most definite in my belief in science, particularly race and evolution.

          • tlk244182

            If there were proof, St. Paul would have spoken of proof, hope, and charity…..

          • Max Krakah

            there is no evidence of evolution, none at all, zero. There has never been a fossil found of an “intermediate” species.

          • freddy_hills

            Wikipedia has a list of intermediates in an article titled “List of transitional fossils”

        • IstvanIN

          This is a no win discussion. I believe in God and evolution. Evolution could just be the way God works. “And then there was light” and the big bang sound awfully similar. Just a thought.

        • The eye evolved several times. An octopus has an eye much like that of a mammal or fish, except some things are backwards.

        • ThatguyinTN

          How about free will. God made everything then went hands off so to speak and allowed the world to evolve. I do not believe in macro evolution but micro evolution is proven its called adaptation.

          • Sick of it

            We’ve had plenty of bottleneck populations over the millenia which did not change in the slightest except for exhibiting more in the way of genetic disease as dangerous recessives came to the surface (and perhaps lower IQ from excessive inbreeding). We’ve had nations and tribes which show specific features, but nothing out of the ordinary over time.

    • Anna Tree

      Alexandra1973, we are on the same team, white racialists, so please don’t see this as an attack, but as a genuine conversation between people of different opinion.

      Please bring support to your claims that:
      1) Neanderthals didn’t exist.
      2) The Bible can be trusted as nonfiction.

      If you prefer not to discuss these issues, that’s okay. I posted this because I feel that Amren should be as much rationalist as possible, to counter any allegations about our racialist claims.

      • Sick of it

        #2 is easy because everyone who disbelieves eventually proves it 100% right. You cannot help but fall into common patterns.

        Here’s a good question for you – Who taught white people to be atheists?

        • tlk244182

          Lucifer?

          • Sick of it

            Close, but Jesus told them they were the children of said fallen being…

        • Anna Tree

          I didn’t understand your first paragraph, sorry.

          About the 2nd paragraph: well, I can’t speak for all the white people but in my case, my reason did: I just started to check things I believed until then without evidence after I found out about one of the untruth I was believing blindly in (islam a religion of peace highjacked by a few bad apples… not) and only then I came to realize how much we are brainwashed in so many issues by the elites, family, media, friends, school and of course by even ourselves, because of greed, naivety, taught self hatred, projection, wishful thinking, pathological altruism, ego etc. I went through all my opinions, checked arguments from the different sides and I indeed changed my mind in many of them.

          Since then, I check everything before making an opinion, and I am always ready to change it with the proper contra argument. There are issues I have not yet an opinion on them because the arguments I found weren’t satisfactory enough to me. It’s okay to say I don’t know…

          Some of the questions I asked myself throughout the years and went to research on were:

          Why killing a 1 month old baby a murder but killing a 8 month old fetus a choice? Is abortion a Universal Human Right?

          Was “prophet” mohamed a good man? Is islam a “religion of peace”?

          Is the Dalai Lama who he – and the media – is portraying himself? Was Tibet a theocracy?

          Is the “climate change” influenced greatly or very little by man? Is hom0sessuality innate? Is bullying an homosexual worse than bullying a kid with glasses?

          Should we forgo the protection of owning arms because criminals are killing?

          Are men more intelligent than women?

          If there are physical differences
          between the races, are there also other differences? Why can the Black or Latinos be proud of their color
          or heritage etc but not a White? Are we all equal in
          front of the Law? Is multiculturalism good? Are multiracialist countries safe? Why so many people never came to create a written language or invent the wheel? Is affirmative action racism? Are special rights and hate crimes discriminatory? etc

          Actually many times in my case, I was a believer in something and become not a believer after checking the different sides… Sometimes it was after listening/reading to strenghten a point of view that ironically I understood it was incorrect!

  • IstvanIN

    Each new discovery seems to indicate that black Africans and Eurasians are not closely related at all. Perhaps no more than Eurasians and other primates.

  • Anna Tree

    Some/many of those who deride Neanderthals are in fact deriding and trying to
    belittle white people (although Caucasians are not the only ones who interbred with Neanderthals: Asians did too.)

    • JohnEngelman

      The shape of the Neanderthal brain and remains of Neanderthal campsites indicate that Neanderthals were less intelligent than the Cro Magnon’s who displaced them and who are the ancestors of Caucasians.

      Nevertheless, the Neanderthals had some beneficial genes, and they have stayed with us.

      • Terra Magnum Imperium

        Maybe, But the first possible evidence of strings were found in a 90000 year old Neanderthal site in Southeast France.
        String=Clothing, shelters, attach stone weapons to wood handles, etc.
        The more we learn about Neanderthals the more Intelligence they seem to be.

    • M.

      Neanderthals only account for 4% of our ancestry. And those who remained were probably their best elements.
      But regardless, the natural selection that came after that in ruthless-climate Europe is what made Whites what they are today. Civilizational selection during Rome and Christian Europe also helped.

  • bigone4u

    Picked up this pic from a search just now. Not bad looking I would say.

    • bigone4u

      Since the picture isn’t displaying, let me try again. It’s a JPEG, so should appear.

      • M.

        The picture is appearing to me.

        • bigone4u

          Thanks. I still can’t see it, but if you can then the problem must be at my end.

        • rowingfool

          Me too.

      • freddy_hills

        The one on top was on the cover of the October 2008 issue of National Geographic. She’s called “Wilma” and represent a neanderthal not denisovan. I don’t know about the one on the bottom.

        • Anna Tree

          I also thought so. Thanks Freddy_hills to confirm for me.

  • M.

    I hope it’s not the Homo heidelbergensis. Because sub-Saharan Africans interbred with those too. And I’m sure if they find out our ancestors interbred with the same species as the Africans, leftist propagandists won’t stop busting our ears with how related we are to Negroes.

    But regardless of whom our ancestors may have interbred with, the fact is that, contrary to Africans, most of our DNA is exactly the same with the Cro-Magnon, and remained unchanged for 25,000 years. Our closer common ancestors than the very first humans are totally different.
    It’s also a fact that Whites remained isolated for thousands of years from Blacks, and were under tougher environmental pressures which led to a ruthless selection. All of this resulted in irreconcilable differences with today’s sub-Saharan Africans which can’t be ignored.

  • Anna Tree

    Your link doesn’t prove Neanderthals didn’t exist, the article is about an anthropologist who lied about the age of a skull to claim it was a link between modern Humans and Neanderthals. You tried to refute something but actually you just proved it: there were Neanderthals but an alleged missing link between them and cromagnons was falsified.

    I don’t understand why chariot wheels discovered in the Red Sea would support the veracity of the Bible. The most it would support one fact, that some Hebrews have crossed the sea on a boat that sunk, that is nothing incredible. Anyway there are no documented artifacts, only some pictures, most looking exactly like coral formations. If I follow your logic, then there are Martians in Mars, don’t you know how many articles just claiming that, are out there? If you believe people or some fuzzy NASA photos on the web that easily, then you also believe there are aliens, rats and lizards on Mars. And aliens visiting us and making silly design in wheat crops. And ghosts, vampires etc etc If it was true, I would say the Israelis/Egyptians/Palestinians would be in a hurry to show everything in the museums, to confirm their holy books and bring tourists and money.

    To validate the Bible you need to prove every single claim from it, to debunk it you need to debunk only one claim…

    But really, I don’t mind your beliefs. Just wanted to point that there are all kind of people on Amren.

    • tlk244182

      What about Descartes? Some things must be assumed in order to get anywhere at all. Christianity is the most compelling and satisfying “theory of everything” that I’ve ever heard. That doesnt make it true, but it does make it useful. As a Christian, I can use science to make sense of the world, and Christianity to make sense of my life. As an agnostic, I was left with a mere collection of ultimately meaningless facts. Mere science explains a world that, in the end, isnt worth explaining. As Chesterton famously said, “The thing has shrunk.” But your point about there being all kinds of race realists, and that we must remain united, is paramount. As you said, we’re all on the same team.

  • tlk244182

    I dont see why, as an historical document, the Bible should be regarded by non-believers as any more or less reliable than any other document.

    • Anna Tree

      Because critical thinking demands open-mindness as well as skepticism, evidence and rationality. The Bible is unreliable because many of its claims are incorrect.

      What other documents are you talking about?

  • Anna Tree

    Max Krakah, it is said that evolution was done through adaptation (by natural selection), as well as mutation and genetic drift.
    Charles Darwin was the first to argument that natural selection, causing adaptation, was the medium of the theory of evolution.
    Please tell me where I am wrong, thank you.

  • M.

    I’m describing the process of natural selection, which is the driving force of evolution.
    And natural selection IS a form of adaptation.

    The rough climate of Europe only left the brightest alive, i.e. those who figured out ways to shelter themselves from the cold; as well as the most bright-skinned, i.e. those who could absorb the scarce sunlight there and produce enough vitamin D to survive.

    As for Rome and Christian Europe, they also contributed to selection. Both systems favored the smartest and granted them high statues, and automatically executed the criminals and most aggressive or sent them to war, therefore their genes didn’t get passed as much as the smart civilized person, from whom the average European of today descends.

  • Chip Carver

    Right. Some people are more intelligent than other because of larger brains. Some are more intelligent because they have more volume in the same space (more convulsions to cram more gray matter in there) etc. Simple way of putting I suppose.

  • Randall Ward

    This story is absolute junk. The “scientists” just can’t get used to the fact that fully modern humans appeared at one time and all the different “species” the scientists think they see are within the boundaries of modern humans. If animals can breed with each other, then they are almost the same animal.
    Neanderthals were nothing more than modern humans, no more different from us than human groups alive today are different from western Europeans.
    The whole focus is on evolution for these scientists and that blinds them to the truth.

  • Randall Ward

    No one knows the mutation rate, if there is any such thing to begin with. The article is more junk science.