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Modern humans split from Neanderthals far earlier than thought: study
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Modern humans diverged from Neanderthals much sooner than believed: study
Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, significantly earlier than currently thought, according to new study based on analyzing how the teeth of ancient fossils evolved instead of relying on genetic techniques. The proposed new timeline is around 300,000 years earlier than current estimates, and would in turn mean that Homo heidelbergensis, another extinct human species, cannot be the last common ancestor between our species and our Neanderthal cousins, as many anthropologists presently believe. The new research by Aida Gomez-Robles at the University College London instead examined dental evolutionary rates across extinct human species, finding that tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate.
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Modern humans split from Neanderthals far earlier than thought: study
Scientists seeking to unlock the mysteries of human evolution have in recent years relied on increasingly sophisticated DNA techniques that provide 'molecular clocks' to date the remains of our ancient ancestors. The study by Aida Gomez-Robles from University College London proposes that the two species' last common ancestor may have lived 800,000 years ago, entering a debate that is hotly contested among anthropologists. The new timeline is between 200,000 to 400,000 years earlier than current estimates, and if correct would rule out Homo heidelbergensis, another extinct human species, as the last common ancestor between Homo sapiens and our nearest relatives the Neanderthals, as some scientists presently posit.
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