Is there a little Fred Flintstone in you?
The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago. They evolved over the millennia mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia, and went extinct (or were simply absorbed into the modern human population) about 30,000 years ago.
The ancestors of early modern humans left Africa about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago, according to DiscoveryNews.com. Despite that wide spread in time, genetic material from Neanderthals still can be found in a piece of DNA (called a haplotype) in the human X chromosome — meaning the two clearly mated.
“This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred,” says Dr. Labuda. His team places the timing of such intimate contacts and family ties early on, probably at the crossroads of the Middle East.
Neanderthals possessed the gene for language and had sophisticated music, art and tool craftsmanship skills, so they must have not been all that unattractive to modern humans at the time, DiscoveryNews.com noted.
“There is little doubt that this haplotype is present because of mating with our ancestors and Neanderthals,” Nick Patterson of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University told DiscoveryNews.com. He added, “This is a very nice result, and further analysis may help determine more details.”