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Researchers Just Discovered A New Connection Between Humans And Neanderthals

Human beings appear to have mated with Neanderthals tens of thousands of years earlier than previous estimations.

The discovery was made after the remains of a Neanderthal woman were found in a cave in southern Siberia, near Russia's border with Mongolia, Reuters reports.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology analyzed the woman's genome and found Homo sapien DNA, which is likely the result of her ancestor mating with a human.

Homo sapiens were previously believed to have mated with Neanderthals approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

The Neanderthal's DNA, however, showed her ancestor mated with a Homo sapien around 100,000 years ago.

This finding also provides evidence Homo sapiens traveled out of Africa earlier than previously thought.

Geneticist Martin Kuhlwilm of Spain's Pompeu Fabra University told Reuters a small group of Homo sapiens likely ventured out of Africa and mated with Neanderthals in the Middle East.

This group seems to have failed, however, in establishing colonies in Europe or Asia.

Kuhlwilm said,

We don't know what happened to them. It seems likely that this population went extinct, either by environmental changes or maybe direct competition with Neanderthals. This seems to have happened during a much earlier migration out of Africa than previously thought. It implies that modern humans left Africa in several waves, some of which probably went extinct.

Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia from 350,000 years ago until 40,000 years ago when they died out.

Characterized by their thick eyebrow bones and strong frames, Neanderthals were nowhere near as intelligent as Homo sapiens, but research showed they were highly advanced for their time when it came to hunting and the use of fire.

Humans, who first emerged in Africa about 200,000 years ago, colonized Europe and Asia in the period before Neanderthals became extinct.

According to FOX News, about 2 percent of the DNA of people with Asian or European heritages can be traced back to Neanderthals.

Citations: Out of Africa, and into the arms of a Neanderthal (Reuters), Humans, Neanderthals interbred thousands of years earlier than first thought, research shows (FOX News)