This population ghost could have diverged from modern humans before the Neanderthals separated from their family tree between 360,000 and a million years ago. It was previously believed that the mixing of different groups took place after humans crossed the borders of Africa and populated other continents.
These ancient humans mixed with the ancestors of the current residents of the African continent in the same way as Neanderthals mixed with the ancestors of modern Europeans, as explained by the authors of the study published in the journal Science Advances, Arun Durvasula and Sriram Sankararaman ,.
After comparing about 405 genomes of West African residents, American researchers discovered that their genetic ancestry It contained between 2% and 19% of the DNA of that archaic population. In addition, they drew genome maps with archaic ancestry through the four ethnic populations currently living in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
The American scientists concluded that the genes of African residents differ from others and that this difference can be explained by gene introgression from an unknown hominid, whose ancestors separated from the family tree of modern human ethnic groups before the Neanderthals did.
The study authors emphasize that it is now difficult to say when this introgression took place. It was possible that this process included more generations of ancient humans. American scientists suggest that ancient humans may have had more complicated and lasting relationships with archaic hominid populations.
Unfortunately, the rarity of the findings of these human remains in West Africa and their poor conservation status do not allow researchers to extract their DNA. All they can do is build their model through computer simulation. However, even this method makes it possible to discover what role an unknown type of ancient human had played in the genome of modern Africans.