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Last Updated : Feb 14, 2020 03:48 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Genes of ancient ‘ghost population’ still found in humans: Study

The researchers claimed that 2 to 19% of the DNA from modern West Africans come from this “ghost population”, just like Neanderthal DNA exists in modern European humans

Representative image
Representative image

A research conducted by two biologists from the University of California, Los Angeles, has revealed that a “ghost population” of ancient humans inhabited in West Africa nearly half a million years ago. Scientists are of the opinion that traces of the genes of these mysterious population can still be found in people, reported CNN.

The researchers made this discovery while analysing a set of west African genome, wherein one-fifth of their DNA seemed to belong to “missing relatives”. Based on this finding, they arrived at the idea that aeons ago, west Africans must have interbred with a population of archaic human we are yet to learn about. This phenomenon that mirrors the ancient European interbreeding with Neanderthals, must have taken place tens of thousands of years ago.

The study published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ mentions that this ancient “ghost population” possibly diverged from modern humans much before the Neanderthals disbanded. The researchers -- Arun Durvasula and Sriram Sankararaman – say they might have drifted away sometime between 3,60,000 to one million years ago.

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They also claimed that two to 19 percent of the DNA from modern West Africans come from this “ghost population”, just like Neanderthal DNA exists in modern European humans and Denisovan DNA is found in Oceanic populations.

The researchers studied the genome maps of West African ethnic population hailing from three countries, namely Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and the Gambia. A total of 405 West African genomes were compared with that of Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes to find out if they interbred with the unknown hominin (ghost population).


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First Published on Feb 14, 2020 03:48 pm
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