mastering biology Learn with flashcards, games, and more — for free. The most recent evidence clarifying the relationship between modern humans and The Neanderthal DNA discovered in Homo sapiens is best explained by ____. New evidence about the ancient humans who occupied Asia is cascading in: the DNA seemed to indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans did not interbreed. Where does the most current data suggest we came from? could clarify the phylogenetic relationship between hominins from Africa. A review of recent research on dispersals by early modern humans from Africa to Additionally, evidence that modern humans interbred with other hominins already present in Asia, such as Neanderthals and . relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals. . Hope that all helps clarify matters.
So there is a great amount of supporting evidence for movement along a southern route, but not necessarily restricted to a coastal dispersal. When modern humans arrived in these different regions of Asia, they were likely surprised to find people who looked somewhat similar to them. Whom did modern humans meet upon arriving in Asia? A plethora of new studies coming out of Central Asia and Siberia suggest that Neanderthals did not stay put in Europe and the Levant.
They travelled too, and we likely met them in Asia.
Interestingly, palaeoanthropologists working in North Korea have written in the past that they might have found Neanderthal-like fossils. In Southeast China, the Maba partial skull has long been thought to resemble a Neanderthal — and probably would have been identified as such earlier on, had it been found further west.
Evidence indicates that the European and African hominin fossils that tentatively date to betweenandyears ago can be more easily assigned to the taxon H heidelbergensis, but the Asian fossils are less easily grouped. Some have suggested continuing to use the term archaic H sapiens or that another term, such as mid-Pleistocene Homo, might be more appropriate.
The Asian picture is a bit cloudier given that it is still not clear whether these mid-Pleistocene Homo fossils are descended directly from the indigenous H erectus or whether they are a result of an earlier migration event, an occurrence that some have suggested could represent an early replacement event.
In the early s, excavations at the Liang Bua cave site on the island of Flores in Indonesia resulted in the discovery of a series of very unusual-looking hominin fossils that are now thought to date to between 60, andyears ago. These fossils were known for their small stature and extremely small heads: However, following their discovery, questions arose as to whether they were a small isolated inbred population whose ancestors might have been H erectus or H habilis, or whether they were simply a modern human population that suffered from a variety of possible diseases ranging from microcephaly to Laron syndrome or dwarfism.
The Denisovans might have been just a small foraging group rather than part of a larger population expansion Although most researchers feel the evidence to support a new species designation to be overwhelming, it has never been conclusively decided. It was even recently suggested that H floresiensis might be a hybrid between H erectus, mid-Pleistocene Homo or a yet-to-be-determined hominin and modern humans. Most researchers believe that H floresiensis was isolated for a very long period of time with a great deal of inbreeding occurring over generations.
New evidence about the human occupation of Asia is cascading in | Aeon Essays
However, Flores is not a very small island and modern humans passing through the region on their way to New Guinea and eventually Australia surely would have stopped by to explore and restock their supplies. It would be unusual if H floresiensis never met another hominin population over the course of perhaps tens or even hundreds of thousands of years. Thus, the hybrid postulation cannot be that easily discounted. Genetic studies over the past decade or so have recognised a new hominin population: The Denisovans were identified from the genetic analysis of a hominin finger bone and a tooth, while study of the morphology of the fossils was indeterminate as to which species might actually be represented.
For instance, one study has identified similarities with the H erectus molars from the Early Pleistocene site of Sangiran in Indonesia and the late Middle Pleistocene site of Xujiayao in northern China that is represented by mid-Pleistocene Homo.
Another study noted similarities in the Denisovan teeth with those from other Central Asian sites situated further west. With the great interest in determining whether Denisovans are already present skeletally, it should be only a matter of time before clear connections are made between the fossils from the Denisova cave in Russia with fossils that represent better-known taxa.
Revising the story of the dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia
The genetics, however, suggest that the Denisovan population might have been widespread in Southeast Asia, as attested to by the evidence that a low percentage of Denisovan DNA is present in modern-day human populations in Melanesia and even northern Australia.
If this is true, then the Denisovan hominins from that cave might have actually been just a small foraging group that expanded northward rather than part of a larger population expansion through the north.
The findings from Denisova are forcing palaeoanthropologists to change their view of how several different populations could have been present in Asia during the Pleistocene. What happened when different hominin populations in Asia actually met? We can glean some clues through genetics, archaeology, and the fossils themselves.
Several recent studies show conclusively that modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans regularly interbred, and that a ghost lineage maybe H erectus might have also contributed DNA too.
That means that interbreeding was recent, perhaps only four to six generations prior to the birth of the Oase 1 fossil. Hawks has argued that the genetic similarity to Neanderthals may indeed be the result of both structure and interbreeding, as opposed to just one or the other.
However, this hybrid Romania population does not appear to have made a substantial contribution to the genomes of later Europeans. This observation has prompted the hypothesis that whereas female humans interbreeding with male Neanderthals were able to generate fertile offspring, the progeny of female Neanderthals who mated with male humans were either rare, absent or sterile.
This suggests mobility or turnover among the distinct Neanderthal populations. Neanderthal extinction According to a study by Thomas Higham and colleagues of organic samples from European sites, Neanderthals died out in Europe between 41, and 39, years ago.
Neanderthals were a separate species from modern humans, and became extinct because of climate change or interaction with modern humans and were replaced by modern humans moving into their habitat between 45, and 40, years ago. Neanderthal range in light grey  Climate change[ edit ] About 55, years ago, the climate began to fluctuate wildly from extreme cold conditions to mild cold and back in a matter of decades.
Neanderthal bodies were well-suited for survival in a cold climate—their stocky chests and limbs stored body heat better than the Cro-Magnons.
In to Asia
Neanderthals died out in Europe between 41, and 39, years ago, apparently coinciding with the start of a very cold period. Neanderthals inhabited that continent long before the arrival of modern humans. These modern humans may have introduced a disease that contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals, and that may be added to other recent explanations for their extinction. When Neanderthal ancestors left Africa potentially as early as overyears ago they adapted to the pathogens in their European environment, unlike modern humans, who adapted to African pathogens.
Multiple interbreeding events Recent genetic research has resolved the question of whether or not modern humans interbred with other ancient hominins - they definitely did.
Revising the story of the dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia
Modern humans interbred not only with Neanderthals, but also with our recently-discovered relatives the Denisovans, as well as a currently unidentified population of pre-modern hominins. In all, it is now clear that modern humansNeanderthals, Denisovans and perhaps other hominin groups likely overlapped in time and space in Asia, and they certainly had many instances of interaction.
The increasing evidence of interactions suggests that the spread of material culture is also more complicated than previously thought. Rather, ecological variation needs to be considered in concert with behavioral variation between the different hominin populations present in Asia during the Late Pleistocene," explains Christopher Bae of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. In light of these new discoveries, our understanding of human movements across the Old World has become much more complex, and there are still many questions left open.
The authors argue for the development of more complicated models of human dispersals and for conducting new research in the many areas of Asia where none has been done to date.