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2011 Science News of the Year: Humans

12:01pm, December 19, 2011

While the Han Chinese (left) don’t show genetic contributions from Denisovans, Australian Aborigines (right) do.

Asia takes a bow

Often overlooked as a geographic player in human evolution, Asia has stepped into the scientific spotlight. New comparisons of ancient and modern DNA indicate that Stone Age humans migrated to Asia in two stages.

At least 44,000 years ago, initial arrivals in Southeast Asia interbred with a humanlike population known as Denisovans that apparently had spread southward from Siberia. Denisovans contributed a portion of genes to living New Guineans (SN: 1/15/11, p. 10), Australian Aborigines and groups on nearby islands (SN: 11/5/11, p. 13). A second human influx gave ris

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