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Neanderthal-Denisovan Split

12,000 Generations Ago

Neanderthals and Denisovans had a common ancestor about 300,000 BCE (current estimates range from 250,000 to 500,000 BCE and possibly as far back as 1.3 million BCE). Humans did not evolve from Denisovans nor Neanderthals, but both were the evolution descendant of a common ancestor with Homo Sapiens tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis. After Denisovans and Neanderthals split, Homo Sapiens and Denisovans interbred up to and as recently as 30,000 BCE. Through DNA testing we can identify DNA that came from interbreeding with Denisovans. Denisovans became extinct about 30,000 BCE. They built shelters, wore clothes, used tools, and spoke. Denisovans likely had dark skin, brown hair, and brown eyes.

The highest percent of Denisovan DNA in modern humans is in Melanesian population ranges; it ranges from 4 to 6 percent, lower in other Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander populations, and nearly undetectable elsewhere in the world.

The common ancestor with Homo Sapiens is tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis which lived from about 600,000 to 200,000 BCE.

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