European-Neanderthal Sex Detailed in Ancient DNA

November 7, 2014 4:50 PM

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There is a surprising genetic unity between the earliest known Europeans and contemporary Europeans, ancient DNA reveals. This finding suggests that a complex network of sexual exchange may have existed across Europe over the past 50,000 years, and also helps to pinpoint when modern humans interbred with Neanderthals, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, the researchers said.

The origin of contemporary Europeans continues to be debated. The modern human ancestors of contemporary Eurasians are believed to have left Africa about 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, but how these earliest Eurasians contributed to the modern European gene pool remains unclear.

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