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Genomes: Ancient hominin mitochondrial DNA sequenced *PRESS BRIEFING*
***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)
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Svante Pääbo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany)
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Terry Brown (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)
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Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
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Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
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