Interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans were common, claims study

The Neanderthals
An exhibit shows the life of a neanderthal family in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina February 25, 2010. Reuters

A new study report published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has suggested that interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans were quite common during the ancient times.

Earlier, it was believed that early humans mated with Neanderthals over a single period of time, but the new research revealed that multiple encounters happened between these two species which indicate that many people living in the modern times have a little bit of Neanderthal DNA in their body.

As per experts, early humans who migrated out of Africa met with the Neanderthals lived in Europe and parts of Asia. It should be noted that people whose ancestors stayed exclusively in Africa do not have Neanderthal DNA in them, as they did not get a chance for interbreeding.

However, approximately 2 percent of the DNA in non-African humans today is Neanderthal and experts believe that this Neanderthal traces might be the result of multiple interbreeding. Making things more clear, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA is comparatively higher among people with East Asian ancestry when compared to their European counterparts.

The new research report is expected to break all the current understanding about the Neanderthal population which were once common in the planet. Previously, it was believed that Neanderthals were not smart like humans, and as a result, they were classified as a different species by experts.

As now, it has become clear that Neanderthals and humans mated multiple times, many scientists have suggested that Neanderthals could be considered as a sub-population of modern-day humans. Another study report published in journal Nature in July 2018 also suggested that Neanderthals who lived 50,000 years ago were capable of creating fire which suggests that they were much smarter than previously thought. Recently, charred digging sticks were discovered in Italy dating back to 1,71,000 years which hints that fire was used as a resource by Neanderthals even before the speculated timeline.

This article was first published on November 28, 2018