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Volume 561 Issue 7721, 6 September 2018

Ancient human hybrid

In this week’s issue, a team led by Viviane Slon and Svante Pääbo reveals the genome of a first-generation offspring of mixed Neanderthal and Denisovan parentage. The genome of the ancient adolescent was obtained from a bone fragment recovered from the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. The young female was at least 13 years old when she died 50,000–90,000 years ago. Neanderthals and Denisovans coexisted in Eurasia, and some specimens of mixed heritage have previously been found. But the latest discovery is the first time a first-generation child has been identified, providing direct evidence of interbreeding between the two groups. The researchers suggest that interbreeding between the groups may have been common when they met but that limited interactions allowed the groups to remain genetically distinct.

Cover image: Annette Günzel

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