Ancient humans ‘rampantly interbred’ with Neanderthals and a mystery species in Lord Of The Rings-style world of different creatures

  • Genome  analysis of Neanderthal and human-like group called  Denisovans
  • It reveals  ancient bedfellows may have included  ‘mystery human ancestor’
  • Has been  likened to Lord Of The Rings world of creatures which  interbred

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 17:13 EST, 19  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:55 EST, 20 November 2013

Ancient humans rampantly indulged in  interspecies sex in a Lord Of The Rings-type world of different  human  groups, new DNA analysis has revealed.

And our ancient bedfellows appear to have  included a ‘mystery human ancestor’, which has not yet been identified.

Genome analysis from a Neanderthal and  another group of ancient humans, the Denisovans, was presented to a meeting of  the Royal Society in London, and it included ‘snippets’ of  the mystery  DNA  – neither human nor Neanderthal.

It suggests that interbreeding was rampant  and more widespread between the human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more  than 30,000 years ago than previously thought, scientists say.

Researchers compared DNA from Neanderthals (skull, pictured) and another group of ancient humans called Denisovans 

Researchers compared DNA from Neanderthals (skull,  pictured) and another group of ancient humans called Denisovans

The findings come from fresh analysis of DNA  from a Denisovan, a hominin  discovered after the finding of bone and teeth  remains in a Siberian  cave, and published in Nature.

The new study of the genomes was carried out  by David Reich of Harvard Medical School.

He said: ‘Denisovans appear more distinct  from modern humans than Neanderthals.

He added: ‘Denisovans harbour ancestry from  an unknown archaic population, unrelated to Neanderthals’, New Scientist reports.

Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at  University College London who was present at the  presentation, said: ‘What  it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a Lord Of The Rings-type world –  that there were many hominid populations.’

It comes after ancient viruses inherited from  Neanderthals were found in modern human DNA.

Scientists are investigating possible links  between the ‘endogenous retroviruses’, which are hardwired into DNA, and modern  diseases such as AIDs and  cancer.

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