If you thought evolution was fairly simple and straightforward for humans, think again.
Studies have proven that humans or homo sapiens continued to have sexual relationships with the less-evolved versions of themselves – the Neanderthals. This has influenced the present day human genome.
- It has been confirmed that over 50,000 years ago, human ancestors reproduced with other less-developed versions of themselves – or hominins, well after they left Africa.
- It has been established that a few Asians and Europeans share such Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry. Besides these groups, the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea are believed to have the same genetic history.
- Denisovans were similar to Neanderthals, but had some genetic differences – much like the more-evolved humans are related to Neanderthals.
- The discovery that the people of Melanesia have traces of Denisovan DNA is an important finding, as the Pacific Islands are geographically quite far away from the Siberian region, where it was believed the Denisovans existed.
- Inheriting genes from the pre-human beings has many benefits, including better infection-fighting immunity for present day humans.
The information presented by the study was gathered by researching the genetic data of over 1,500 people from all over the world. Joshua Akey, evolutionary geneticist at University of Washington said, “It is still not exactly clear when and where Melanesian ancestors crossed paths with Denisovans, but our best guess is somewhere in mainland Southeast Asia. Many of these genes are involved in immunity and likely helped our ancestors fight new pathogens that they were exposed to as they dispersed into new environments.”