Geneticists Studying Ancient DNA Discover A Girl Whose Parents Were Two Different Species

At a laboratory in Germany, researchers were baffled by a piece of ancient bone. Surely it couldn't be true? This was something paleontologists thought they would never find: a hybrid between two early human relatives. But there was no mistake. The ancient remains of a girl indicated that her parents were from two entirely different species, marking a breakthrough that could redefine our concepts of human ancestors.

Longheld Suspicion

Scientists have long suspected that there was interbreeding between ancient humans. The chances of uncovering proof of this? Slim at best, or so the experts thought. Then researchers in a cave in Siberia stumbled upon a tiny fragment of bone. Initially, the team didn’t even realize that this came from a hominin – a term that just means “all the species regarded as human.” But soon an incredible story began to unfold.

Extracting DNA

Although the bone languished in obscurity for years, one intrepid researcher eventually found it and began to inspect it. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology’s Viviane Slon also decided to try to extract DNA from the artifact. And what she found has turned decades of research on its head. Now, we have some exciting new truths about how ancient humans made their way through the world.

First Confirmed Hybrid

Why was the bone so important? Well, we know that a number of different species walked the Earth before and even alongside modern humans. This particular discovery marked the first time that a direct hybrid had been unearthed, however. It was history in the making, and so it’s no wonder that researchers reacted to the news with delight.

Prehistory Life

And there’s an incredible tale behind this fragment of bone – a story all about the human race. Today, all people belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, which first emerged approximately 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. But as prehistory buffs know, that hasn’t always been the case.