Detailed examination of samples of ancient DNA has revealed the genetic makeup of humans living circa 40,000 years ago in an area near what is now Beijing in China.
An international team of researchers including Svante Pääbo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing.
Analyses of DNA recovered from the leg bones showed that the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with present-day Asians and Native Americans. In addition, the researchers found the proportion of Neanderthal and Denisovan-DNA in this early modern human is no higher than in current populations living in this region today.
Humans who looked broadly like present-day people started to appear in the fossil record of Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, however many questions remain about the relationship between these early modern humans and present-day Homo sapiens populations.