Denisovan subline, and how they and Neaderthals are related to modern humans

During the past 10+ years, these GEITP pages have covered the topic of “modern human evolution,” because the Homo sapiens genome has been molded by genetic and environmental influences during the past 5-6 million years — since divergence from gorilla and chimpanzee. From archeological evidence (skull shape, etc.), there have been more than 20 “fits and starts” of early Homo defined sublines, from their beginnings that occurred in southeast Africa [see pasted figure far below, which is a diagram published ~15 years ago, so it is now quite outdated].

Attached is a 2-page editorial (written in a friendly breezy style) on our latest understanding of how modern human lines diverged from Homo erectus between ~750,000 and 1.2 million years ago, then modern humans split from the Neaderthal-Denisovan ancestral line between ~550,000 and 765,000 years ago, and then Neaderthals diverged from Denisovans between ~450,000 and 600,000 years ago. Homo sapiens is believed to have been a definitive subline for the past 300,000 years, and now we realize that all of us “have a few percent of Neaderthal and/or Denisovan DNA” in our genomes today.

The figure “Tangled Tree” on p. 446 [attached] shows interbreeding (denoted by vertical arrows) between modern humans and both Neaderthals and Denisovans; one verticle arrow is missing (that I know of) and that’s between Neaderthal and African genomes.

Recently (24 Aug 2018) these GEITP pages covered the article (published in Nature) about the serendipitous discovery of a fossil that was the daughter of a Neaderthal mother and Denisovan father (this is discussed in the current attached article as well). 🙂


Nature 28 Feb 2o19; 566: 444-446

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