What is written in the oldest human genome? Now we know it!
The oldest human genome has been finally sequenced. It was extracted from 430,000-year-old samples of fossiled tooth and bones. These fossils were found in Spain’s Sima de los Huesos, that means “pit of bones”. This is archaeological site which contains the biggest and oldest collection of human remains.
Conducting the research were some German scientists. Analizing the ancient DNA, they found evidence that our ancestors were somehow linked to the ancestors of Neanderthals who dwelled on Earth hundreds of thousands of years earlier. This breakthrough may make us redraw the human family tree.
Until this discovery, the remains found in Spain were attributed to the early ancestors of Neanderthals. But, a 2013 Nature study comfirmed that the owiner fo the femore analysed was related to Denisovans (an extinct species of human found in Siberia). This fact implies the fact that at least one individual buried in Sima de los Huesos was related to Denisovans and not to Neanderthals, but existed hundreds of thousands of years earlier than the Denisovans themselves.
So, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans must have diverged from their common ancestor by 430,000 years ago. Modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans all evolved form the so called Homo hedelnergensis, but this species didn’t evolve until 700,000 years ago. Probably, our common ancestor is Homo antecessor which evolved much earlier than the previous one.
We should start looking for a population of human ancestors that lived between 700,000 to 900,000 years ago to find our origin. Homo antecessor is the strongest candidate for the common ancestor, if such specimens can be found in Africa or the Middle East.
The hunt has already started!