About 50,000 years ago there were at least two different types of hominids in Eurasia: the Neanderthals in the west, who occupied most of Western Europe, and Denisovans in the east.
For years, paleontologists were convinced that both species crossed each other, leaving a common lineage.
A team of experts from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology discovered, by sequencing the genome of an old man from Siberia, that the individual had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father, Nature explained.
"We knew from previous studies," said Viviane Slon, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute and co-author of the study, "that Neanderthals and Denisovans should have children, at least once in a while, but I never thought we were lucky had a real offspring from the two groups. "
The individual being studied is represented only by a single small bone sample. "The fragment-explained Bence Viola, another member of the team- is part of a long bone, and we can estimate that the owner was at least 13 years old."
The fossil was found in 2012 in the Russian Cave of Denisova and then transferred to the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, where Svante Pääbo, director of the department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute, discovered that it was a new unknown human species .
Pääbo, the lead author of this research, is also the scientist who was able to follow the genome of a Neanderthal in 2010 for the first time.
With this research, the researchers were able to establish that the mother was genetically closer to the Neanderthals in Western Europe than to other members of the same species who previously lived in the same denisova cave.
This shows that the Neanderthals migrated tens of thousands of years before their disappearance between west and east Eurasia.
The analysis also revealed that Father Denisovano had at least one Neanderthal ancestor in his family tree.
Svante Pääbo, for his part, assured that "it is surprising that, among the few old individuals whose genomes are defined, we are exactly with this Neanderthal / Denisovan child.
Neanderthals and Denisovans may not have had many opportunities to meet. But when they did, they often had to mate, much more than we thought so far. "