There are two extinct human-like species known to modern science, named Neanderthals and Denisovans. But recently, an astonishing possibility surfaced when the dark-skinned yet blue-eyed Melanesians were studied, hinting that there existed another group of relatives of us homos in the ancient times, who are still to be discovered.
Neanderthals, who became extinct around 40,000 years ago, had DNA 99.7% identical to that of the present humans. So, there is a huge chance that they interbred with homo sapiens.
Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted in Europe and Asia for at least 30,000 years. Between 1.5 and 2.1 percent of the genomes of today’s non-Africans can be traced to Neanderthals.
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The skeleton of a male human’s and a female Neanderthal’s “love child” was found in a rock-shelter called Riparo di Mezzena in the Monti Lessini region of Italy.
Dr Montgomery Slatkin from the University of California, Berkeley, said, “We don’t know if interbreeding took place once, where a group of Neanderthals got mixed in with modern humans, and it didn’t happen again, or whether groups lived side by side, and there was interbreeding over a prolonged period”.
Denisovans lived alongside Neanderthals and the latest research indicates mingling between the two as well as with humans. The genomes of people from China and other Asian populations, the Native Americans, Australian aborigines, New Guineans and some Pacific Islanders contain Denisovan genes.