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Hominin Interbreeding and the Evolution of Human Variation

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Hominin Interbreeding and the Evolution of Human Variation

Kwang Hyun Ko. J Biol Res (Thessalon).

Abstract

Mitochondrial Eve confirms the "out of Africa" theory, but the evidence also supports interbreeding between Homo sapiens and other hominins: Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo heidelbergensis. This article explains how interbreeding between early H. sapiens and archaic hominins occurred. The availability of edible insects in East Asia aided the spread of the unaggressive, highly cooperative Neanderthals, who interbred with H. sapiens in Asia, resulting in a higher admixture of Neanderthal DNA in East Asian populations. Geographical variation in degree of interbreeding between H. sapiens and Neanderthals likely contributed to neurological and behavioral differences in modern humans. Similarly, people with Denisovan genetic admixture were better able to dwell in mountainous regions, allowing their genetic legacy to cross the Himalayas and persist in Southeast Asian and Oceanian H. sapiens. In the Sub-Saharan region, unaffected by Denisovan or Neanderthal interbreeding, H. sapiens interbred with H. heidelbergensis, because high humidity militated against fire-making and allowed the survival of these non-fire-making hominins.

Keywords: Denisovan; Hominin interbreeding; Homo heidelbergensis; Homo sapiens; Neanderthal.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Number of edible insect species by country [26]. Source: Centre for geo information, Wageningen University, based on data compiled by Jongema 2012
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Köppen climate classification. Tropical/megathermal climates, Af/Am/Aw, feature high rainfall, hot temperatures [45]
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Connection between average cranial capacity and geographic ancestry of H. sapiens [44]

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