Early humans had mated with Neanderthals and other primitive cousins far more often than thought in a world of debauchery, according to a new study.
Researchers found that interbreeding happened “multiple times” as our ancestors began to pour out of Africa and mingle with more species around 75,000 years ago.
The analysis of Neanderthal DNA in modern East Asians and Europeans found the assumption it was rare is wrong. It happened often — over a period of up to 35,000 years.
Data from the 1,000 Genomes project — which has mapped the DNA of 1,000 people from around the world — suggests an environment of rampant promiscuity.
It was a complex web of relationships in which individuals had intercourse with members of their own group — and different early humans, or hominins.
Co-author Joshua Schraiber said: “I do think there was probably much more interbreeding than we initially suspected. Some of the fantastical aspects come from a lack of a clear definition of ‘species’ in this case.
“It is always very hard to know if an extinct group constituted a different species or not.
“My guess is that any time two different human groups lived in the same place at the same time for a while, they probably had some sort of breeding contact.”
Recent studies have found Denisovans, another extinct relative, had sex with Neanderthals and humans on numerous occasions.
The Denisovan species was only discovered in southern Siberia a decade ago. They were genetically distinct from both Neanderthals and humans.
There were at least three different human forms on Earth only 40,000 years ago — all having an intercourse with each other. And there may have been more.
When anatomically modern humans dispersed from Africa, they encountered Neanderthals in Europe and Asia.
This left a signature in our genomes — with about 2 percent inherited from the Neanderthal. This DNA influences our immune system and the diseases we develop.
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