DISCOVER: DNA and The Story of US | Archaeology Now Houston & Family Tree DNA

This season’s DISCOVER Lecture Series is graciously brought to you by Family Tree DNA

The letters DNA seem to stand for “Daily New Advances.” We’re positively pelted with new finds, new information, new revelations about our ancestors and ourselves, thanks to the double helix.  Humans and Neanderthals interbred!  My sister and I don’t have the same father!  Jewish priesthood has been uninterrupted for 3200 years.  Modern Tibetans have Denisovan genes!  The “story of us” is being rewritten from one day to the next.

And now, we’ve found evidence of the first individual hybrid human.  In the same Siberian cave where Denisovans were first found, scientists recovered a bone fragment that came from the at least teen-aged daughter of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.  In the human family tree, Neanderthal and Denisovans split some 400,000 years ago; we knew that both species had inhabited that cave, but this hybrid girl proved that they had lived there at the same time some 50,000 years ago.  And to find evidence of interbreeding in one of the very few DNA samples we have from this period suggests that cross-species mating was not rare, but common.

Bone fragments from the daughter of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.

In fact, thanks largely to the DNA in this one bone fragment, we believe that modern humans, Denisovans, and Neanderthals interbred and may have lived together—in multiple places and on different occasions over many tens of thousands of years. 

There are more than 2,000 bone fragments from the Denisova cave that are still unprocessed.  Be prepared for more Daily New Advances!

Siberia’s Denisova Cave is the only known location housing remains from Neanderthals, Denisovans, and early modern humans.
Come hear Michael Hammer, the “Ancestor Hunter”, discuss these changes and more on Sept 20 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, at 6:30 pm. 

Tickets are available at 713.639.4629 or HMNS Box Office


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2 thoughts on “DISCOVER: DNA and The Story of US | Archaeology Now Houston & Family Tree DNA

  1. I lived in the Houston area but now live out of state. There have been several of these presentations that I would have loved to have had electronic access to – via a podcast, a transcript to purchase – what have you. One would think this would be possible. It’s so frustrating to be so close to such compelling stuff and not have access!

    1. Hi Keith – we understand your frustrations, however, we are restricted as to what we can share online due to pricing and venue restrictions. All but one of our lectures require ticketed registration and we are also limited as to what we can do per venue. We are hoping that in the future we may be able to host modified webinars online for a small fee.

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