New Scientist - Thoroughly modern humans interbred with Neanderthals
According to Michael Slezak, evidence now confirms what many paleo-anthropologists and Paleontologists suspected, that modern humans interbred with our Neanderthal relatives.
When humans hooked up with Neanderthals, we could have wooed them with music and fancy jewellery.
The oldest DNA of a modern human ever to be sequenced shows that the Homo sapiens who interbred with the Neanderthals were very modern - not just anatomically but with modern behaviour including painting, modern tools, music and jewellery.
Some previous estimates had placed the first interspecies liaison much earlier, before the emergence of these features. The new DNA sequence shows it actually happened in the middle of an age called the Initial Upper Palaeolithic, when there was an explosion of modern human culture.
About 2 per cent of many people’s genomes today is made up of Neanderthal DNA, a result of interbreeding between the two species that can be seen in everyone except people from sub-Saharan Africa. The so-called Ust’-Ishim man, named after the town in western Siberia where he was found, carries a similar proportion of Neanderthal DNA in his genome as present-day Eurasians, and a combination of radiocarbon and genetic dating shows he died only about 45,000 years ago.