London, 8 April
Crossbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals was common in Europe, say scientists who sequenced the oldest DNA of homo sapiens, dating back more than 45,000 years, from caves in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
In the first study, Mateja Hajdinjak and a team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, examined the oldest teeth and fragmentary remains of three people from Bacho Kiro Cave in Bulgaria, dating between 45,900 and 42,600 years old.
They all showed recent Neanderthal forerunners, Hajdinjak reported in the journal Nature.
Neanderthal tradition has been found somewhat higher: 3.4-3.8% in the genes of Bacho Kiro individuals compared to modern non-African genes, which usually carry about 2%.
The chromosome segments of Bacho Kiro individuals – which are shortened in subsequent generations – were also significantly longer. This showed that even up to the past six or seven generations, individuals of Bacho Kiro had Neanderthal ancestors. That was probably in Europe, not the Middle East, the researchers said.
In another study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, researchers looked at, for almost 45,000 years, the almost complete skull of a woman from a cave known as the Golden Marten in the Czech Republic. The Neanderthal origins of women go back 70-80 generations, or perhaps 2000-3000 years, said Johannes Krause, a paleogeneticist from MPI-EVA.
Both remnants are not associated with later Europeans, ancient or modern, meaning their lineages must have disappeared from the region, but, the study showed a link between the Bacho Kiro people and modern East Asians and Native Americans.
Moreover, the remains of Bacho Kiro reveal that they once lived throughout Eurasia, but disappeared from Europe and lived in Asia. IANS