(ORDO NEWS) — Anthropologists have closely examined humanity’s past connections with “ghost populations” – mysterious groups of ancient people who, as it turns out, were not so “ghostly” after all. Recent discoveries in the study of DNA from artifacts have provided greater insight into how Homo sapiens came into contact with these enigmatic groups.
The study initially poses the question: Who are “ghost populations”? These mysterious creatures once roamed the Earth, coexisting with Homo sapiens, and even, as it turned out, engaging in sexual intercourse with our ancient ancestors.
Human evolution expert Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum in London, describes the discovery as “a different way of being human.”
“We can see that they are fully human,” he says, “but interestingly with a different kind of human. Another way to be human.”
The researchers found that these ancient groups were not very different from Homo sapiens. Some of them exhibited complex behaviors such as rock painting and hunting. This is what led scientists to ask: “Did our ancestors mix with these groups?”
DNA analysis has shown that Homo sapiens did have sexual contact with these groups, including Neanderthals and Denisovans.
DNA and archeology
Human Descent Program director Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution explains: “They didn’t have a map, they didn’t know where they were going, but as they looked over the next slope into the next valley, (they) encountered populations of people that looked a little different.” than themselves, but they mated and exchanged genes.”
So while Homo sapiens were indeed different from other groups, this was not enough to stop them from being sexually attracted to these “ghost” populations.
Archaeologist John Shea of New York University Stony Brook suggests:
“They probably thought, oh, these guys look a little different. They have a slightly different skin color. Their faces look a little different. But they’re cool guys, let’s try to talk to them.”
Many researchers hope that with the development of DNA technology , they will be able to dive even deeper into the past and retrieve ancient genomes from different parts of the planet. This will help expand our picture of human history and perhaps learn more about mysterious “ghost populations.”
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