Ancient Human Mitochondrial DNA lineage From Siberia

Carl Zimmer – one of my favourite science writers – commenting on his blog on the analysis of an ancient mitochondrial DNA lineage in a human fossil from Denisova cave in Siberia. It could belong to an entirely new species of hominid or –

The DNA comes from the finger of a Neanderthal or a human–thanks to a love that dare not speak its name. Imagine, if you will, that an early Neanderthal male takes a morning constitutional in search of woolly rhinos when, gadzooks, he meets up with a fetching X-woman hominid. For whatever reason, the two of them decide to have an interspecies tryst, and X-woman gets pregnant. She gives birth to a girl carrying Neanderthal and X-woman DNA in her nucleus–and nothing but X-woman DNA in her mitochondria. Somehow this girl becomes a part of Neanderthal society; she has Neanderthal children of her own, and they continue to carry the X-woman mitochondrial DNA.

Meanwhile, closer to home in Indonesia (Liang Bua cave in Ruteng, Flores island), there are new science reports on the “Hobbit” – Homo floresiensis – (via pandasthumb.org). You can see great pictures of the digs, and the Hobbit herself here.

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