News in Brief
Talk about blended families. A 13-year-old girl who died about 50,000 years ago was the child of a Neandertal and a Denisovan.
Researchers already knew that the two extinct human cousins interbred (SN Online 3/14/16). But the girl, known as Denisova 11 from a bone fragment previously found in Siberia’s Denisova Cave, is the only first-generation hybrid ever found.
Humans’ gift of gab probably wasn’t the evolutionary boon that scientists once thought.
There’s no evidence that FOXP2, sometimes called “the language gene,” gave humans such a big evolutionary advantage that it was quickly adopted across the species, what scientists call a selective sweep. That finding, reported online August 2 in Cell, follows years of debate about the role of FOXP2...
Commercials abound for DNA testing services that will help you learn where your ancestors came from or connect you with relatives. I’ve been interested in my family history for a long time. I knew basically where our roots were: the British Isles, Germany and Hungary. But the ads tempted me to dive deeper.
Previous experience taught me that different genetic testing companies can yield...
Michael Douglas, a new resident of southern Maryland, credits genetic testing for helping him find his heritage — and a family he knew very little about.
Douglas, 43, is adopted. He knew his birth mother’s name and had seen a birth certificate stating his birth name: Thomas Michael McCarthy. Over the years, Douglas had tried off and on to find his birth family, mostly by looking for his...
For the second time in less than a month, DNA probes of family trees in a public database have helped police catch a murder suspect.
On May 17, detectives in Washington arrested 55-year-old William Earl Talbott II of Seatac for the 1987 double murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg. A new DNA sleuthing technique called genetic genealogy led to Talbott’s capture. His arrest came just...
A teenage girl climbed into an underground cave around 13,000 years ago. Edging through the ink-dark chamber, she accidentally plunged to her death at the bottom of a deep pit.
Rising seas eventually inundated the cave, located on Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula. But that didn’t stop scuba divers from finding and retrieving much of the girl’s skeleton in 2007.
“First Face of...
Year in Review
Human origins are notoriously tough to pin down. Fossil and genetic studies in 2017 suggested a reason why: No clear starting time or location ever existed for our species. The first biological stirrings of humankind occurred at a time of evolutionary experimentation in the human genus, Homo.
Homo sapiens’ signature skeletal features emerged piece by piece in different African...
News in Brief
ORLANDO, Fla. — Interbreeding with Neandertals restored some genetic heirlooms that modern humans left behind in the ancient exodus from Africa, new research suggests.
Those heirlooms are versions of genes, or alleles, that were present in humans’ and Neandertals’ shared ancestors. Neandertals carried many of those old alleles, passing them along generation after generation, while...
News in Brief
Modern people of European and Asian ancestry carry slightly more Neandertal DNA than previously realized.
About 1.8 to 2.6 percent of DNA in non-Africans is an heirloom of ancient human-Neandertal interbreeding, researchers report online October 5 in Science. That corresponds to 10 to 20 percent more Neandertal ancestry than previous estimates — and it may carry consequences for human...
DNA is setting the record straight on ancient Canaanites.
For the first time, scientists have deciphered the complete genetic instruction manuals of Canaanites. By comparing five Canaanite genomes with those of other ancient and modern populations, the researchers identified the Canaanites’ ancestors and discovered their descendants, modern Lebanese people.
The results, reported...