Earlier date for Neanderthal-human sex

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Neanderthals may have been breeding with modern humans much earlier was thought

Neanderthals and modern humans were interbreeding much earlier than was previously thought, scientists say.

Traces of human DNA found in a Neanderthal genome suggest that we started mixing with our now-extinct relatives 100,000 years ago.

Previously it had been thought that the two species first encountered each other when modern humans left Africa, about 60,000 years ago.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

Dr Sergi┬áCastellano, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Germany, said: “It is significant for understanding the history of modern humans and Neanderthals.”

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The Neanderthal remains were found in a cave in Siberia

The ancient remains of a female Neanderthal, found in a remote cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, are the source of these revelations about the sex lives of our ancestors.

A genetic analysis reveals that portions of human DNA lie within her genome, revealing an interspecies mingling that took place 100,000 years ago.

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