Scientists sequencing nuclear and mitochondrial DNA extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing say the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with the ancestors of many present-day Asians and indigenous American peoples, a release from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said Tuesday.
Humans with morphology similar to present-day humans appear in the fossil record across Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, but the genetic relationships between these early modern humans and present-day human populations had not yet been established, researchers said.
The genetic profile of the Tianhuan remains reveals this early modern human was related to the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans but had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of present-day Europeans, they said.
"This individual lived during an important evolutionary transition when early modern humans, who shared certain features with earlier forms such as Neanderthals, were replacing Neanderthals and Denisovans, who later became extinct," researcher Svante Paabo said.
"More analyses of additional early modern humans across Eurasia will further refine our understanding of when and how modern humans spread across Europe and Asia," Paabo said.