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Modern humans may have interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans

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Published on Sep 21, 2012

Modern humans have about 1 to 3% Neanderthal DNA and some Denisovan DNA. Australian Aborigines have the highest proportion of Denisovan DNA, at about 4 to 6%. Modern Africans lack Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA. Some modern human immune system genes - HLA-A genes - contain very high proportions of DNA from these archaic cousins. So, it appears that modern humans may have mated with Neanderthals and Denisovans as the former spread out of Africa and across Eurasia, in the process gaining important disease-resistance genes.

[However, a recent paper has raised doubts about the hybridisation hypothesis, claiming instead that the shared DNA could be explained by shared ancestry, rather than interbreeding.]

Sources:
Catalyst, ABC TV,, 20 September 2012.
http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/storie...

[ http://phys.org/news/2012-08-esearch-...
Effect of ancient population structure on the degree of polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient hominins
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2012 109 (35) 13956-13960
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/35/13... ]

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