Evidence of Interbreeding between Archaic Humans and Homo Sapiens

Science and Children, September 2019 | Go to article overview

Evidence of Interbreeding between Archaic Humans and Homo Sapiens


An analysis of a 160,000-year-old archaic human molar fossil discovered in China offers the first morphological evidence of interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia.

The study centers on a three-rooted lower molar--a rare trait primarily found in modern Asians--that was previously thought to have evolved after H. sapiens dispersed from Africa.

The new research points to a different evolutionary path.

"The trait's presence in the fossil suggests both that it is older than previously understood and that some modern Asian groups obtained the trait through interbreeding with a sister group of Neanderthals, the Densiovans," says Shara Bailey, a professor of anthropology at New York University and the paper's lead author.

In a previous study, published in Nature, Bailey and her colleagues concluded that the Denisovans occupied the Tibetan Plateau long before Homo sapiens arrived in the region. That work, along with the new PNAS analysis, focused on a hominin lower mandible found on the Tibetan Plateau in Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China in 1980. …

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