Inferring archaic introgression from hominin genetic data

Evol Anthropol. 2021 May;30(3):199-220. doi: 10.1002/evan.21895. Epub 2021 May 5.


Questions surrounding the timing, extent, and evolutionary consequences of archaic admixture into human populations have a long history in evolutionary anthropology. More recently, advances in human genetics, particularly in the field of ancient DNA, have shed new light on the question of whether or not Homo sapiens interbred with other hominin groups. By the late 1990s, published genetic work had largely concluded that archaic groups made no lasting genetic contribution to modern humans; less than a decade later, this conclusion was reversed following the successful DNA sequencing of an ancient Neanderthal. This reversal of consensus is noteworthy, but the reasoning behind it is not widely understood across all academic communities. There remains a communication gap between population geneticists and paleoanthropologists. In this review, we endeavor to bridge this gap by outlining how technological advancements, new statistical methods, and notable controversies ultimately led to the current consensus.

Keywords: ancient DNA; archaic hominins; genetics; introgression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthropology, Physical
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA, Ancient / analysis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genetic Introgression / genetics*
  • Hominidae / classification
  • Hominidae / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neanderthals / classification
  • Neanderthals / genetics*


  • DNA, Ancient
  • DNA, Mitochondrial