Ancient human bone reveals when we bred with Neanderthals

Ancient human bone reveals when we bred with Neanderthals
Behold the femur. Credit: Bence Viola, MPI EVA

When a human bone was found on a gravelly riverbank by a bone-carver who was searching for mammoth ivory, little did he know it would provide the oldest modern-human genome yet sequenced. The anatomically modern male thigh-bone, found near the town of Ust'-Ishim in south-western Siberia, has been radiocarbon-dated to around 45,000 years old.

This was an interesting time in human prehistory. Although within the most-recent ice age, it was a relatively warm period, sometimes proposed as the point at which modern humans entered Europe. It is also when the artefacts left by many modern humans start to develop from tools similar to those used by older human species to more sophisticated ones. At the same time, we see appearance of evidence for fishing, trade, music and art.

Isotope analysis suggests that Ust'-Ishim man's diet included fish, and he was discovered not far from the Kara-Bom site, at which such artefacts have been found. So it seems likely that these were the kinds of objects he used.

How humans colonised the Earth

The story of modern humans starts much earlier, around 200,000 years ago, in Africa. By about 50,000 years ago, the Middle East had been colonised, and from there, other areas of Eurasia.

The reality is that the spread of humanity was complex, with millions of individuals moving, reproducing and generally getting on with life. But simple models that group people into populations can give useful approximations of the truth. One well-supported model has one population, the "beachcombers", migrating east along the south Asian coast and eventually populating Australia and another group migrating north inland later and then spreading both east and west to provide the majority of ancestry for the people of Eurasia.

To see where the Ust'-Ishim man fits into to this picture, his DNA sequence was compared to that of many modern and ancient individuals, and mutations used to suggest how they are related to each other.

Mutations are the random changes that happen in all DNA sequences over time. While some have significant consequences, most don't. They are passed down to descendants and, when detected in sequence data, they can be used to build a family tree of sorts. If two individuals share a mutation, they must be descended from the same ancestor.

Ust'-Ishim man has many mutations that are common across most of the world, but not in Africa. This isn't surprising. Like the inhabitants of those places, he descended from the pioneering group that moved from Africa to the Middle East – and any mutations that happened within that population had a good chance of being carried around the world.

What is more interesting is that he does not carry many of the that characterise any proposed migration since then, neither the beachcombers nor inlanders, Asian or European. This suggests that he was part of a different northward migration from the Middle East than the one that populated these continents. Maybe his people died out before or during the later influx – or maybe they were just outnumbered and absorbed.

Meeting the Neanderthals

Another interesting part of this story is that, when arrived, Eurasia was already inhabited. As they spread they came across , descendants of earlier out-of-Africa migrations. These included the Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo erectus – and none of them survived the meeting.

However, it has become increasingly clear that this is not the whole story. Previous sequencing projects have shown that all today's non-Africans have interbreeding with Neanderthals to thank for 1.5-2% of their DNA. And indeed, the famous bones found at Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel-Palestine appear to have a mixture of modern and Neanderthal traits and have been proposed as hybrids. However, whether they contributed to today's gene-pool or died out is unknown.

With the help of new tools, Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany has developed ways to sequence DNA obtained from ancient bones. This is no easy feat because DNA, just like other carbon-containing compounds, degrades on its own as time passes by. However, Pääbo was able to recover enough from the bone to run comparative tests.

He and his colleagues, in a study published in the journal Nature, found that Ust'-Ishim man has a similar proportion of Neanderthal ancestry to today's non-African. It was contributed 7,000 to 13,000 years before Ust'-Ishim man lived (about 50,000 to 60,000 ago). This is much later than the Skhul-Qafzeh people, making them an unlikely ancestor.

However, it is difficult to be sure whether Ust'-Ishim man's forebears account for Neanderthal ancestry of people today. The dating of this hybridisation to so near most proposed dates for the colonisation of the Middle East suggests that it might well be at least part of the explanation.

Explore further

Oldest DNA ever found sheds light on humans' global trek

More information: Oldest DNA ever found sheds light on humans' global trek - … ans-global-trek.html

This story is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).
The Conversation

Citation: Ancient human bone reveals when we bred with Neanderthals (2014, October 24) retrieved 20 September 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 25, 2014
Only brainwashed of public school 5th grader kids would buy this crap. lol

Oct 25, 2014
Your comments strongly suggest you're a creationist. As this is a science site it is best when disputing research results to supply credible links to back up your arguments.

Creationist blogs wont cut it.

Oct 25, 2014
So, you are a creationist.

Oct 25, 2014

You say you love science but you disparage it's findings in your very first comment on this site.

"Science creates theories based on direct observations of natural phenomena in nature."

That's what Darwin did in formulating his theory of evolution ( I'm using the scientific definition of theory, not the popular one).

So, do you accept evolution as the explanation of biodiversity through time?

Oct 25, 2014
What is this?

"Dating methods are highly inaccurate and can not be relied upon to determine the age of the sample---"

On this site when you make faulty statements you are going to be challenged to provide empirical evidence from credible sources.

Oct 25, 2014
There is a fundamental limitation, which ensures that humans will never be able to create a machine or biological life form more complex than yourself
so... per this logical conclusion and per the explanation you have given:
there is no possible way that we can design a system or mechanical device that does math faster, better, easier than ourselves?
this is personal conjecture not supported by empirical evidence






Oct 25, 2014
I do not know how you get such a conclusion?
using your own words and inferring a logical conclusion

you will notice that i provided links as well: please review them as they are directly related to your argument against complexity from chaos
random processes do not create a structural and functional order
your argument assumes that you cannot have solar systems, galaxies, flight or evolution in any form, whereas science has shown that this is not true and that you CAN have complexity from chaos without violating the 2nd-LOT which you seem to think says we cannot have complexity from chaos

IOW - your argument is invalid and as Vietvet points out, is oddly reminiscent of creationist ideas and lack of scientific background with faith based assumptions supported only by conjecture and belief of the individual

Oct 26, 2014

Your arguments are philosophical not scientific. You have a bias that is so strong that no amount of empirical evidence will sway you.

Life doesn't need a designer but most people have an emotional need to believe that life isn't random. To a degree that makes sense, if you work hard and play by the rules you expect to be rewarded. But life is random, every day innocent children suffer and die.

You propose a designer but if there was one it would be totally incompetent.

Oct 26, 2014
pure chance can not create order from chaos
in other words, NO, you didn't read the links I left above
My arguments are based on the experience that I have and my knowledge in science
and like Vietvet says, your arguments are philosophical, not science, and you've offered NO proof at all
this is a SCIENCE site, not a philosophy or religious site
Paradoxically they failed but free chance succeeded
this comment alone proves you are not scientifically literate
science is every bit as much about the failures as the successes
the failures prove as much as the successes, if not more
and you will also note that despite not having replicated life, we HAVE replicated life's necessary elements or found them created etc

Oct 26, 2014
I'm not so impressed
don't be impressed by logic, science and proven results. that is YOUR prerogative
however, science is about what you can PROVE, and that means that science trumps gut feelings and hunches
general idea of these articles is to call black white and to invent an imaginary reality that contradicts our observations
how do the OBSERVATIONS OF SCIENCE contradict our reality? or create an imaginary reality?
those links are based upon science, not a faith or a book of a faith.
just because you have a FAITH, does NOT mean said faith is the same as everyone else

faith is the belief in something without evidence or proof

SCIENCE is about proving and defining reality

the SCIENCE in those links is irrefutable, it is your FAITH that you have that makes you THINK that it is imaginary

you have given NO PROOF that the science is not legitimate or proven, you've simply given your feelings on this

Oct 26, 2014
But energy alone does not bring order to the system. Must be intelligently directed to do useful work
are you saying that your "creator" brought the intelligence or that we use it? because your argument makes NO sense in light of plants, chlorophyll and the definitions of intelligence

Or are you saying that modern plants are intelligent and we've just not found out how to communicate?

be specific... because, for all the sense you are making you may well have just said:

a member of the paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits being utilised for battery in a cultural art form that generally involves movement of the body, often rhythmic, and to music

your philosophy is coloring your judgement and making you biased which gives you the belief that your faith is legitimate and defnies the proven science

read the J. Blank study above

Oct 26, 2014
In science there are no known natural mechanisms that can create such organized structures that we see todey in nature from chaos and finely tuned physical laws to support them
wrong again
here is a natural space bound experiment that created order from chaos
here is a lab version
they both allowed for the search parameters to be adjusted for narrower restrictions and scientific investigation
in everyday life we observe the opposite process of transition from order to chaos in the absence of intelligent action
this is MOSTLY true, but not always true
otherwise we would see absolutely NO formations at all in space (from stars to galaxies)

assumption of intelligent intervention is only justified by ignoring the laws of physics
as well as all modern knowledge
not logical NOR is it science
it is religion

Oct 26, 2014
I аsk questions and explain why do not believe in evolution
you haven't "explained" anything, you've simply invoked a mystical sky fairie in the hopes that it will be rationally accepted without thought
you do not say where and do not give me yours arguments
are you illiterate?
let me make it SIMPLE
WHERE you are wrong: invoking a deity
my argument against a deity: empirical evidence provided by science (& linked)
did you or did you not say
In science there are no known natural mechanisms that can create such organized structures that we see todey in nature from chaos
to which I gave you proof that you are not comprehending the science?
the SCIENCE gave you proof that there CAN be order created from chaos
our dialogue becomes boring and I can not understand how you think
like i said: you are scientifically illiterate and trying to push religion/faith over science
just because you don't understand doesn't mean it aint true
deal with it

Oct 26, 2014
My point of view:
supernatural intellect + plan+ Will -> universe + Earth + human
life has meaning and purpose
this is NOT philosophy, this is RELIGION and has NO PLACE in science
Why? because religion suppresses knowledge and is designed to segregate, control and create fear
although this has been proven in any field of science
no deity has EVER been proven in science
no proof of any religion has ever stood up to scientific scrutiny either
life has no meaning and purpose
this is your interpretation, not mine

feel free to show me where science has proven your deity exists
or where science has proven your interpretation of purpose
in fact, feel free to show where science supports your conclusions at all... any of your faith conclusions

there are none, onle your personal conjecture, which is based upon flawed logic, much like this:

circular logic/self reference is not reality!

Oct 26, 2014
Intelligent creator made ​​these cosmic structures
personal conjecture not supported by evidence
your bible doesn't even mention all the cosmic structures, nor the possibility of amino acids in space, therefore it is irrelevant and proven false
They can not evolve with the current physical laws in this form, which we observe
false conjecture based upon faith/religious delusion
the laws of physics prove that they MUST evolve in the way that they have been observed doing
Evoutionists had to invent a virtual dark matter and energy
evolutionists are NOT physicists nor astrophysicists
dark matter is an observed phenomenon that is simplym not understood yet and labeled as such temporarily due to its KNOWN observed parameters

the rest of your post is rubbish and religious dogma supported only in your delusional mind and encouraged by your religion

give proof
I've given you links that prove my statements, you gave only delusional beliefs

Oct 27, 2014
equating between religion and faith
i am not equating them. there is a huge difference between the two. faith is the belief in something sans evidence, religion is the dogmatic institution that springs up around a faith that forces people to be controlled, segregated and creates hostility
imposed cliché that believers are not educated unlike unbelievers
i never stated this nor do i imply it
i simply pointed out where you are being blinded by your faith into ignoring empirical data that is scientifically recorded
believers usually have strong moral code
this is absolutely false and an assumption
there is NO empirical evidence proving this at all, and i would point out that most mafioso as well as most criminals profess themselves believers as well as lead exemplary lives in prison (until released, that is)
sing that tune to someone who might believe it, i have dealt with far too many "believers" that are also criminals

Oct 27, 2014
responsible attitude to both people and science. Rarely are led by ego and personal ambitions and seek scientific truth rather than sensational speculation
i must state that this is, by far, the stupidest thing I've read in a while
first of all, religion is what forces many to "choose sides" between science and religion/faith so your personal assessment above is rubbish
secondly, it is science that has come up with the method of being objective and without outside influences. not religion. religion suppressed science for thousands of years (so don't give me that line about being responsible for science and people)
Scientists who created the basis of science were believers
and as believers, you will also note that they created a method that allowed science to advance without the influence of flawed religious beliefs

your argument is flawed from the start and you are still ignoring empirical data for whatever reason (i say it is your faith)

Oct 28, 2014
instead of giving me boring links and qualifications of my arguments, give me a fresh example of the evolution of everyday life

how is that for starters: empirical evidence proving the theory of evolution

i am only supporting science, and what is real, not some faith based conjecture which is rooted in a fallacious publication which has been shown to be falsely edited as well as written

unless you can prove, using the same level of evidence that i have given you, that the above studies are incorrect, then you are simply pushing pseudoscience and faith and trying to inhibit knowledge for the sake of a religion

TROLL elsewhere, i am getting really tired of faith based conjecture without any evidence assuming their POV is as legitimate as a scientific fact
give me science or go away and troll someone else

Oct 29, 2014
but did not understand what this study proves with those 60,000 generations of E. coli.
that study shows evolution happening in real time
take a look at the article to learn a little more about it:
no information on the overall results to date
you can go to the "publications" link on his page and read through the various studies (read the abstracts and then the discussion or the conclusions section of the studies)
or you can search Google (or your search engine) for Lenski and look for articles that discuss the results (like on the PO link above)
The result of the mutation is a loss of information in DNA over time
this is a fallacy
mutation usually does cause loss of info or detrimental results, but if you look at Lenski's work (and also some of jv kohl's work) you can see that there ARE beneficial mutations that positively affect the organism

Oct 29, 2014
Organisms such as bacteria have additional mechanisms for gene tranfer between members of one species or between members of diferent species, but the process somehow miraculously does not change the type of organisms
there is nothing miraculous about it, it is an adaptation
IOW - evolution
found mutations that lead to they decide...
it is simple. much like the Lenski experiments, they find a way to adapt and improve their chances of successful reproduction in the environment: Lenski's experiment directly represents this and you can follow along on his site proving this

Don't get hung up on the modern argument about single mutation speciation (as in single mutation causes another species). That is still a hot topic and there is still plenty of back and forth with it... and it is not something i am addressing

I am simply showing that mutation and evolution are a well demonstrated topic and proven scientifically with plenty of evidence

Oct 29, 2014
How they understand when any random change in particular gene has positive and when negative effect?
some of this should be addressed to the scientists doing the research, and i highly recommend it, too
it may well help you understand what they are doing far better than posting here to a pop-sci site
ANY time i question something i go right to the source
I suggest you do this as well
The more complex are the organisms, the more harmful effects random mutation have on them. This is why these organisms have integrated protection against mutations
and as i stated above, not all mutations are negative and there are some beneficial mutations
and i don't assume guidance on the part of the mutation, either, so i would suggest that as well, because that is simply appealing to a faith/magic for the results... go with the science

Oct 29, 2014
If complex protective mechanisms in cells fail to correct random mutations in the DNA, the immune system is trying to destroy mutated cells. If it fails over time can develop malignancies in the organism and lost of functionality.
and again, this makes the broad assumption that all mutations are negative
there are such things as positive mutations (or beneficial mutations) which are described in Lenski's work and others as well
In fact, one known creationist troll on this site called JVK (james v. kohl) has argued repeatedly against mutations all while proving, with his own model, that mutations can be beneficial
This is repeatedly pointed out to him
you can see some arguments here: http://freethough...s-place/

the gist of it is: his model causes mutations, and he even admits it when you use the definition, but not the word "mutation"
(which is why he is considered a troll on PO)

Oct 30, 2014
The whole article is in the spirit of wishful logic.
no it isn't, and i told you that arguing about single mutation speciation is another post entirely and not relevant
it is also a hot topic in biology already... with neither side making a clear or concise definitive argument for speciation with the exception of the argument of reproduction

get over it
the article does, however, prove mutations can be beneficial, that mutations are a player in evolution, and proves beyond the shadow of a dounbt (unles you are deluded by faith) that evolution is real and empirically proven

which was the original argument, was it not?
instead of giving me boring links and qualifications of my arguments, give me a fresh example of the evolution of everyday life
i gave you exactly that
you are ignoring empirical evidence for whatever reason
argument ad nauseum from ignorance or faith is still stupid, you know

Oct 30, 2014
When there is accidentally mistaken base pairs in a gene, protein synthesized by this gene can not fold properly and obtain its unique three-dimensional shape, which is so important to its function as the chemical composition
are you an idiot or another kohl sock-puppet?
mutation is defined as: any changes to the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal genetic element

argument from kohl's anti-mutation rants about how mutations cannot be beneficial with "this gene can not fold properly and obtain its unique three-dimensional shape" is simply ignoring the empirical evidence of Lenski's work, as well as kohl's own work!

i am not saying all mutations are beneficial
i am saying that some mutations over time can be beneficial

and if you are going to be stupid and ignore empirical evidence, there is no reason to continue to discuss this, is there?

troll elsewhere with your faith

Oct 30, 2014
Let thеse researchers make the experiment as minimize the possibility of mutations in the studied populations of bacteria and see if they will get better results at the end of the experiment.
based upon your arguments above, your explanations and posts...

you are trying to TROLL with pseudoscience and faith based arguments

you are simply re-posting kohl arguments that have been proven wrong and now you are completely ignoring everything linked as evidence

you are a troll and will be treated as such
downvoted and reported when you get stupid

(like above ignoring evidence, obfuscation of argument, circular reasoning, faith based conjecture without evidence, re-posting other trolled arguments proven wrong already here on PO, and continually re-posting the same stupid diatribe without proof of claims)

Oct 30, 2014
We bred with Neanderthals? Did we have troops there?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more