Human evolutionary tree may be rewritten after the discovery of the oldest DNA sequence
Humans evolved from apes and since then our DNA has been a constant proof of the evolutionary cycle of our kind. Our DNA tells a story of the ever changing things that keep happening as we evolve.
But a new DNA sequence reading could alter our whole timeline. A team of German scientists have found something that can change the human evolutionary tree and rewrite the way we see our ancestors, may be adding a new ancestor and removing someone that we thought was our ancestor. Read for yourself the newest of findings that can change our human evolutionary tree.
1 Human Evolution
The human evolution is the process that led to the development of the modern humans. The fact that humans and apes were related was known to man for centuries, but how the actual evolution took place, came to be known by a series of findings of human skull and bones of our ancestors, which made a chain of links, starting from the very first humans born in Africa.
The oldest representative of the genus Homo is Homo habilis, which evolved some 2.8 million years ago and is the earliest known species of humans which used stone tools. Then came Homo rectus, the Neanderthals and finally Homo sapiens, us.
But all of this knowledge can change because the German scientists have discovered new remains of a previously unknown homo genus species that can have an impact on the human evolutionary tree.
2 Newest findings
German scientists have managed to sequence the DNA from a 430,000 year old sample of human remains, mainly a fossilised tooth and thigh bone found in 1997. The bones were found in Spain’s Sima de los Huesos, which can be translated to pit of bones.
The ‘pit of bones’ is located in the Cueva Mayor-Cueva del Silo cave system in north-central Spain, a place that contains the oldest and largest collection of human fossilised remains; more than 6500 fossilised bones and 500 teeth.
3 Results of DNA sequencing of the bones
The German scientists have managed to sequence the DNA from the fossils found in the Sima de los Huesos and found something very interesting. The sequencing has allowed the scientists to create the human evolutionary tree beyond the points of the previously known milestones.
The bones recovered from the site are of early Neanderthals, ancestor of the Neanderthals, who had evolved more than 100,000 years before the Neanderthals. The fossils were excavated in 1997 from Spain and their DNA sequencing finished this year.
It has also thrown some light about a completely different species of humanoids that are closely linked to the humans, known as Denisovans.
4 What does it means?
The recent findings mean that our evolution can be traced way back into the time, when they split from the Neanderthals and the Denisovans, who lived in Southern Siberia. It also pushed back the timeline of Neanderthals 100,000 years back.
Previously it was thought that our direct ancestors split from this Neanderthal-Denisovans ancestor some 315,000 to 540,000 years ago, but these recent findings may push that timeline to some 750,000 years ago.
It may imply that our ancestors Homo heidelbergensis, may not have been our ancestors at all. This species were not evolved until 50,000 years after the modern Neanderthals and Denisovans split and went their own ways. Another problem with the DNA sequencing is that though the fossils showed that the bones were from Neanderthals, some mitochondrial DNA from some samples, show that around 28 individuals in the pits are Denisovans.
How did the Denisovans get there? Who are our real ancestors? How our human evolutionary tree looks like now? These are some questions that the scientists have to find answers now.