Ancient hominin mitochondrial DNA sequenced

Sequencing of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) identifies a previously unknown hominin who lived in the mountains of central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago.


This press release is copyright Nature.

PICTURES: While we are happy for images from Nature to be reproduced for the purposes of contemporaneous news reporting, you must also seek permission from the copyright holder (if named) or author of the research paper in question (if not).

HYPE: We take great care not to hype the papers mentioned on our press releases, but are sometimes accused of doing so. If you ever consider that a story has been hyped, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected], citing the specific example.


Genomes: Ancient hominin mitochondrial DNA sequenced *PRESS BRIEFING*
DOI: 10.1038/nature08976

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 24 March at 1800 London time / 1400 US Eastern Time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 25 March, but at a later date. ***

Sequencing of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) identifies a previously unknown hominin who lived in the mountains of central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago. Analysis indicates that this mtDNA derives from a previously unrecognized out-of-Africa migration, distinct from the ones undertaken by the ancestors of Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans.

Johannes Krause and colleagues sequenced the mtDNA from a tiny piece of finger bone found in a cave in southern Siberia. The sequence represents a previously unknown type of hominin mtDNA and, in a paper published online in Nature this week, the team compare the mtDNA genome with that of modern humans and Neanderthals. Analysis of the new sequence indicates that it shared a common ancestor with modern human and Neanderthal mtDNAs about 1.0 million years ago, which is twice as old as the most recent common mtDNA ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals.

The age of the fossil furthermore suggests that this hominin species might have coexisted with Neanderthals and modern humans in that region of the world.

Johannes Krause (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Lepizig, Germany)
Tel: +49 341 355 0517; E-mail: [email protected]

Svante Pääbo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany)
Tel: +49 341 3550 501; E-mail: [email protected]

Terry Brown (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)
Tel: +44 161 306 2585; E-mail: [email protected] N&V Author


From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

From the UK
Rebecca Walton, Nature, London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail: [email protected]

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG):

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. In addition, for this audience, NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, plus a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. Online, provides over 5 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and online databases and services, including Nature News and NatureJobs plus access to Nature Network and Nature Education’s

Scientific American is at the heart of NPG’s newly-formed consumer media division, meeting the needs of the general public. Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with and 15 local language editions around the world it reaches over 3 million consumers and scientists. Other titles include Scientific American Mind and Spektrum der Wissenschaft in Germany.

Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Heidelberg, Basingstoke, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Washington DC. For more information, please go to

Published: 24 Mar 2010

Contact details:

The Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan Street
N1 9XW
United Kingdom

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: