SCIENTISTS have discovered the remains of a child produced by interbreeding between two different species of prehistoric humans.
DNA from a bone fragment found in a Russian cave showed it was a girl of around 13 with a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.
Dr Viviane Slon, a geneticist in Leipzig said: “We knew Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children.
“But I never thought we’d be so lucky as to find an offspring.”
The Neanderthals and Denisovans were ‘sister groups’ and our closest extinct human relatives.
It is known the Denisovans lived alongside modern humans and our primitive cousins – and had sex with both.
The researchers determined the mother was genetically closer to Neanderthals who lived in western Europe than to those that lived earlier in Russia.
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This shows Neandertals migrated between western and eastern Europe – and Asia – tens of thousands of years before their disappearance.
Professor Svante Paabo in Leipzig said: “It’s striking we find this Neanderthal/Denisovan child among the handful of ancient individuals whose genomes have been sequenced.
“Neanderthals and Denisovans may not have had many opportunities to meet. But when they did they must have mated frequently – much more so than we previously thought.”
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