Modern humans split from Neanderthals far earlier than thought | 2019-05-18 | daily-sun.com

Modern humans split from Neanderthals far earlier than thought

18 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Modern humans split from 
Neanderthals far earlier than thought

Scientists seeking to unlock the mysteries of human evolution have in recent years relied on increasingly sophisticated DNA techniques that provide “molecular clocks” to date the remains of our ancient ancestors.

But a new analysis that instead examines fossil teeth provides an alternative approach—and one which yields a significantly earlier date for the divergence between modern humans and Neanderthals. The study by Aida Gomez-Robles from University College London proposes that the two species’ last common ancestor may have lived 800,000 years ago,  entering a debate that is hotly contested among anthropologists.

The new timeline is between 200,000 to 400,000 years earlier than current estimates, and if correct would rule out Homo heidelbergensis, another extinct human species, as the last common ancestor between Homo sapiens and our nearest relatives the Neanderthals, as some scientists presently posit.


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