A recent study published in the journal Nature sheds new light on the complex history of human evolution in Europe. The study examined the genomes of three individuals who lived between 45,000 and 60,000 years ago in what is now Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
The researchers found that all three individuals had Neanderthal ancestors, with one individual having a Neanderthal ancestor as recently as just four to six generations back. This finding is surprising because it was previously thought that interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals was relatively rare, with most modern humans having only trace amounts of Neanderthal DNA.
The researchers also found evidence of genetic mixing between the different populations of early humans in Europe. One individual in the study had genetic markers that suggest they had a distant ancestor from what is now East Asia, indicating that there may have been multiple waves of human migration into Europe.
Insights into Human Evolution
These findings provide new insights into the complex history of human evolution in Europe. They suggest that early humans were not just isolated groups, but instead were part of a larger network of populations with intermingling and interbreeding occurring across long distances and over many generations.
Implications for Understanding Human Evolution
This study has important implications for understanding human evolution. It suggests that early humans in Europe may have had much more frequent interactions with Neanderthals than previously thought. Furthermore, it indicates that there may have been multiple waves of human migration into Europe, with genetic mixing occurring between different populations.
Overall, this study highlights the importance of genetic analysis in reconstructing the history of human evolution. By examining the genomes of ancient individuals, researchers can gain new insights into the complex interactions between different populations of early humans, including their interbreeding and genetic mixing.
Barras, C. (2021). Europe's oldest known humans mated with Neanderthals surprisingly often. New Scientist.