Fantasist & Futurist
- Nov 23, 2002
New Scientist reports on how a fragment of prehistoric bone found in Russia shows a direct combination of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA - a Neanderthal mother, and Denisovan father: Prehistoric girl had parents belonging to different human species
What's especially interesting about this story is that it is already (slowly!) becoming accepted that humans and Neanderthals interbred - but now we have evidence that Neaderthals and other pre-modern hominid species were interbreeding.Her DNA was almost 50:50 Neanderthal and Denisovan, arranged in a tell‑tale way. Our DNA comes in paired strands called chromosomes, one from each parent. In Denny’s case, each pair had one Neanderthal and one Denisovan chromosome, with very little mixing. She was the daughter of parents from different species.
Denny’s mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from mothers, is Neanderthal. Therefore, her mother was Neanderthal and her father Denisovan.
Denisovans remain mysterious and intriguing - we still only know of their existence through a handful of bones fragments, but their DNA exists in modern human populations across Asia (much as Neaderthal DNA is apparent in modern human populations across Europe).
Clearly the origin of modern humans is becoming increasingly complex.