DNA

Researchers Discover New Lineage of Ancient Human

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DNA from a 40,000-year-old human finger bone found in a Siberian cave points to a new lineage of ancient human, researchers report today. The find—the first made with genetic, not fossil evidence— suggests that Central Asia was occupied at that time not only by Neandertals and Homo sapiens but also by a third, previously unknown hominin lineage. "This is the most exciting discovery to come from the ancient DNA field so far," says Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, United Kingdom.

Human Ancestors Were an Endangered Species

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With 6.8 billion people alive today, it's hard to fathom that humans were ever imperiled. But 1.2 million years ago, only 18,500 early humans were breeding on the planet--evidence that there was a real risk of extinction for our early ancestors, according to a new study.

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