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Biotech Earth Science

DNA Analysis Suggests Humans Interbred With Denisovans 157

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the star-trek-romance dept.
ananyo writes "Tens of thousands of years ago modern humans crossed paths with the group of hominins known as the Neandertals. Researchers now think they also met another, less-known group called the Denisovans. The only trace that we have found, however, is a single finger bone and two teeth, but those fragments have been enough to cradle wisps of Denisovan DNA across thousands of years inside a Siberian cave. Now a team of scientists has been able to reconstruct their entire genome from these meager fragments. The analysis supports the idea that Neandertals and Denisovans were more closely related to one another than either was to modern humans and also suggests new ways that early humans may have spread across the globe." wombatmobile linked to an article that focuses on the new techniques used to sequence the DNA of the bone fragments in question.
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DNA Analysis Suggests Humans Interbred With Denisovans

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to cross my DNA with Irina Denisova too!

  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday August 31, 2012 @05:40PM (#41194871) Journal
    Considering what I've seen on the net, it doesn't surprise me in the least that H.Sapiens has interbred with anything and everything. The only surprising element would be whether or not there were offspring.
    • Different human groups always have and always will interbreed to leave just the "human" race.

      The species keeps evolving. It'll probably change in ways drastic enough that we wouldn't even recognize it as "human" anymore. Well, except for that interbreeding thing.

    • Interbreeding implies offspring. Otherwise it's just sex.
  • >> Now a team of scientists has been able to reconstruct their entire genome from these meager fragments.

    So, can they be re-created?

    • >> Now a team of scientists has been able to reconstruct their entire genome from these meager fragments.

      So, can they be re-created?

      Another Jurassic Park sequel is even more likely.

    • IIRC, the team managed to get 91% of the genome down 'pretty accurately'. That is a technological tour-de-force [sciencemag.org] in and of itself but likely not enough to 'clone' somebody. Unless, perhaps, you added additional 'spacer' DNA - like from a frog.

      "I'm French, how do you think I got this outrageous accent?"
      "What are you doing in England then?"
      "Mind your own business."

      Na, would never work.

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Would this count as "experimenting on humans" without their consent if Denisovans were sort of a different species? Or for that matter, is the thing you're experimenting on a human before you're done building it from scratch?
  • Listen... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Humans have tried to interbreed with just about every species imaginable. Sheep, for instance. And, when drunk, even animals which sometimes predate upon humans. So I have no doubt that modern humans have interbred with Denisovan babes. We are some seriously horny, depraved bastards.

    • Actually the study determined that the most common type of mating was Denisovan males with human females.
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Actually the study determined that the most common type of mating was Denisovan males with human females.

        The GP didn't say anything about genders. Anyone who has been around women know that they like to get freaky.

        • The GP didn't say anything about genders. Anyone who has been around women know that they like to get freaky.

          GP said:

          So I have no doubt that modern humans have interbred with Denisovan babes.

          And said:

          We are some seriously horny, depraved bastards.

          Those words have gender, and using them in the context suggests the GP thought it was mainly men getting freaky.

          Signed,

          Someone who's been around lots of women.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            I've heard both terms used to refer to both males and females. Connotation, I'll give you.

  • I guess I'm the only one who saw Star Trek. Kirk got it on with a lot of alien babes.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      It seems to me that Kirk's babes were all as human as he was. Like a lot of TV shows and movies from the 50s and 60s, TOS often assumed that other planets would be inhabited by people. TOS sometimes portrayed aliens as having weird physical features (as TNG and its sequels always did), but mostly the "aliens" looked like they came from Southern California — as indeed they did.

      I recently re-watched the original Planet of the Apes. When I first saw it 40 years ago, the teenage me was not bothered by the

      • by WastedMeat (1103369) on Friday August 31, 2012 @07:32PM (#41195733)

        It makes much more sense, and is perfectly compatible with the rest of the plot, if you replace his period of muteness with a delay to learn the language. I have a suspicion this is what was originally intended but they did not want subtitles on the whole film.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        It doesn't seem like scientific silliness to me. They directly addressed the issue. "It's a mad house!!! It's a mad house!!!" The whole situation made no sense to Taylor. The thought that Earth would be over thrown by apes and plunged into a primitive society where humans were little more than wild animals to be hunted was less likely in his mind than another planet having a parallel evolution where the apes come out on top. The silliness you are bothered by likely comes more from the fact that you al
        • by fm6 (162816)

          What you're saying is, if I go to a random planet inhabited by intelligent life, I should expect to find people and apes; the only thing screwy about this planet Taylor has discovered is that the apes can talk and the people can't.

          Sorry, that's bad science. It ignores an observed scientific fact: divergent evolution [wikipedia.org]. When an ecosystem is isolated, it evolves species that are different from those that evolved elsewhere. The longer it's isolated, the more different it is. That was demonstrated when Australia,

      • by swalve (1980968)
        Star Trek explains away the humanness of all the aliens by introducing a proto race that seeded the galaxy with its DNA. We are all similar because we are all distantly related.
        • by fm6 (162816)

          The proto race was invented much later, in TNG. It was one of many silly attempts to explain small stuff, like that plague that made Klingons look like humans. The writers for the TOS were less careful about science, and didn't see any contradictions in having aliens look human.

          Besides, why did most of the aliens Kirk met look like plain humans, while the aliens Picard met all look like people wearing latex masks?

  • Uh uh uh, oh oh oh, ug ug ug. Home Sapiens girls are easy.

  • And you'll see plenty of humans breeding with Neandertals.

  • by tdelaney (458893) on Friday August 31, 2012 @06:50PM (#41195425)

    Alyson Hannigan is modern-day proof of homo sapiens interbreeding with Denisovans.

  • It's funny how only two species of recent hominids are commonly known when there were actually five within the last 35,000 years. Most of those died out in the last 15,000 years. the five species are Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans, A group known as the Red Deer people, and Homo floresiensis (hobbits). There is debate about the red deer people since no DNA has been found. Their features are very primitive so they are likely a unique group. All survived until near the end of the last ice age with the
    • We do know that while the Neandertals persisted to within 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, the last Neandertals, like the group found on Gibraltar, were marginalized. It seems reasonably likely that pre-modern members of genus Homo in Eurasia never had that high a population, in no small part because wide portions of Eurasia were pretty inhospitable and could not support dense populations. If there was even a small breeding differential between any of these groups and modern Humans, over twenty or thirty thousan

    • by fm6 (162816)

      It's funny how only two species of recent hominids are commonly known

      Not funny at all. The first Neanderthals were dug up in 1829, and have had plenty of time to become a feature of popular culture. Except for the unavoidable Modern Humans, every other hominid is a very recent discovery. The Red Deer Cave people were only discovered in 1979. Hobbits and Denisovans were only discovered in the last decade,

  • The relatively close proximity of Homo florsiensis remains (Indonesia) and the supposed-partly-descended-from-Denisovans modern population (Melanesia) leads me to speculate that H. floresiensis and Denisovans might be the same. Undoubtedly we'll find out in due course. The big problem is the distance between Indonesia and Siberia - if the (sub)species was so wide spread, we'd expect to have many more remains in between.

  • Fucking our neighbors to death for the last million years.
  • Wait, but if we could breed successfully with them then they were not really a different species, by definition. "Race" would be the more accurate word.

    "A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring."

    • by swalve (1980968)
      Evolution is fuzzy.
    • by jc42 (318812)

      "Race" would be the more accurate word.

      Not really, because that term has too many emotional/political/social connotations, and is routinely misused in common speech. Biologists mostly use the term "subspecies", which is a synonym without the connotations.

      "A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring."

      That's often the first definition given in textbooks, followed by explanations of why it's not a very good definition due to its fuzziness. Thus, one of the common textbook examples discusses wolves, jackals and domestic dogs. Our pet dogs can interbreed with both wolves and jackals, so the

      • I understand, and still prefer my definition.
        Because it will always be fussy and most importantly because I do not want a group of animals I flew to an island previously uninhabited with animals of that type to suddenly become a new species.

        The first definition is the only one that makes any kind of sense, and yes many many examples exists of this web of subspecies with no clear species groupings.

        And you are right about Race, but subspecies has its own connotations and in general human subspecies are called

  • To think the discovery of the structure of DNA is only 60 years old. I believe James Watson is still alive. Sort of like the first moon landing was only 66 years after the first manned powered flight. Or the progress from the first transistor to the modern laptop that has five plus billion of them. Anyone care to give some other examples?

  • Hank Ketcham has reported on the menacing Dennisonian for 61 years, with the Wilsonian getting the Ruff end of the stick.
  • What I personally find the real significant development is how they managed to get the genome so complete. They have developed a way go replicate from single strands of DNA, eliminating the need for double strands. Since apparently DNA tends to fall apart into single strands quite fast but the single strands last much longer, this means that a whole lot of DNA that we already have on file for various purposes is suddenly a whole lot more useful. We can now replicate much more damaged and incomplete DNA so w
  • ... that humans will have sex with anything..

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I was already going there myself. If it were possible to sire offspring which were part human and part sheep, we would have seen them all over the place thousands and thousands of years ago.

      • Thanks for the imagery.

        My first thought was 'So thankful that humans and trees don't produce viable offspring' which lead to 'I wonder if referencing humans who mate with vegetables is appropriate here'.. leading to ..well.. 'anything'.

  • She was a denisovan at 10 and a 10 at 2...
  • This is completely useless information that only a paleontology/anthropology dweeb can regard as news to get excited about.

    None of this is going to result in anything that improves human lives in any way.

    With just the slightest squint of the eyes, "Neanderthal" and "Denisovan" become synonyms. Basically it's just a word game: let's arbitrarily divide the prehistoric ancestors into two groups and give them different names, and then pretend that this is important somehow.

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