Thursday, 12 October 2017

40,000-year-old “Tianyuan Man” pure Homo sapiens

When scientists excavated a 40,000-year-old skeleton in China in 2003, they thought they had discovered the offspring of a Neandertal and a modern human. But ancient DNA now reveals that “Tianyuan Man” has only traces of Neandertal DNA and none detectable from another type of extinct human and elusive cousin of Neandertals known as a Denisovan. Instead, he was a full-fledged member of our species, Homo sapiens, and a distant relative of people who today live in East Asia and South America.
The first modern humans arose in Africa about 300,000 years ago. By 60,000 years ago, a subset swept out of Africa and mated with Neandertals, perhaps in the Middle East. After that, they spread around the world.

Tianyuan Man shares DNA with one ancient European—a 35,000-year-old modern human from Goyet Caves in Belgium. But he doesn’t share it with other ancient humans who lived at roughly the same time in Romania and Siberia—or with living Europeans. Tianyuan Man is most closely related to living people in east Asia. All of this suggests that Tianyuan Man was not a direct ancestor, but rather a distant cousin, of a founding population in Asia that gave rise to present-day Asians.