Research into human DNA has established that some homo sapiens, long, long ago, interbred with Neanderthals. (Hey! democrats had to come from somewhere.) But more recent research into the DNA of South Pacific islanders had found ancestry from Neanderthals and Denisovians and from a previously unknown third hominid group.
Islanders in the Pacific Ocean may be may be carrying traces of a long lost human species locked up in their DNA.
Today, modern humans inherit a small chunk of our genes from Neanderthals, with evidence that some of us carry the genetic remnants of a lesser known sister group, called the Denisovans.
But genetic analysis of people living in modern Melanesia suggests they carry traces of a third, as yet unidentified prehistoric relative distinct from the others.
The island groups of Melanesia â€“ which includes Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Solomon Islands and others â€“ are geographically cut off by the Pacific Ocean, with their DNA providing a unique window into how human ancestors spread across the region.
The latest research, presented at a meeting of the American Society for Human Genetics in Vancouver, bolsters previous findings that there may be another strand to the story of modern humans, with multiple groups of prehistoric human interbreeding.
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