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Oldest human DNA narrows time of Neandertal hookups

A 45,000-year-old Siberian bone provides genetic clues to human evolution

2:32pm, October 22, 2014
oldest H. sapien bone

ANTIQUE GENES   A 45,000-year-old modern human leg bone, recovered from Siberia in 2008, has yielded the oldest known Homo sapiens DNA and has provided clues to the timing of interbreeding between ancient humans and Neandertals.

DNA of a 45,000-year-old Siberian man, the oldest modern human genetic material retrieved to date, indicates that he lived a short time after Homo sapiens interbred with Neandertals, a new report finds.

This ancient man belonged to a population that was related to earlier people who left Africa and split into European and Central Asian lines, paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues report in the Oct. 23 Nature.

An amateur fossil hunter found the ancient man’s leg bone sticking out of an eroding river bank near the Siberian settlement of Ust’-Ishim in 2008. Pääbo’s team estimated how long ago the man lived from measurements of the decay rate of radioactive carbon in the bone.

It’s possible that the Stone Age man belonged to a group that left cutting tools at several Siberian sites dating to

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