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Oldest ever human genome sequence may rewrite human history

Oldest ever human genome sequence may rewrite human history

New Scientist

Image: Javier Trueba, Madrid Scientific Films

The oldest ever human nuclear DNA to be reconstructed and sequenced reveals Neanderthals in the making – and the need for a possible rewrite of our own origins.

The 430,000-year-old DNA comes from mysterious early human fossils found in Spain’s Sima de los Huesos, or “pit of bones”.

The fossils look like they come from ancestors of the Neanderthals, which evolved some 100,000 years later. But a 2013 study found that their mitochondrial DNA is more similar to that of Denisovans (see video, below), who also lived later and thousands of kilometres away, in southern Siberia.

So who were the Sima people – and how are they related to us?

To find out, a team led by Matthias Meyer at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, pieced together parts of the hominin’s nuclear DNA from samples taken from a tooth and a thigh bone. Read more on newscientist.com…