Tangled Roots

Mingling among Stone Age peoples muddies humans’ evolutionary story

By Bruce Bower, 11:26 AM August 9, 2012

An ancient finger bone recently landed a genetic sucker punch on scientists studying human evolution. DNA extracted from this tiny fossil, unearthed in Siberia’s Denisova Cave, unveiled a humanlike population that interbred with people in East Asia at least 44,000 years ago. Denisovans supplied nearly 5 percent of the genes of native groups now living in Australia, New Guinea and on several nearby islands.

That molecular shocker followed a revelation that the genetic instruction books of pe...

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