What We Didn't Know About Mankind Is Being Revealed

Denisovans bracelet 40,000 years old

We thought we knew about man's history and we focused all our attention on the "missing link," but modern technology and new finds have revealed that we had no idea how our past history played out and that even today we carry the DNA of other forms of man who were ahead of us in technology and intelligence. Lately, more and more information is being released to the public, as if trying to prepare us for some greater truth that we need to be fed in pieces to accept.

Neanderthals Were Smarter Than We Thought

1960s portrayal of Neanderthal

present-day portrayal of Neanderthal

We knew that Neanderthals had a bigger cranial capacity than Homo sapiens, but the general assumption presented by educational institutions and anthropologists was that they were some kind of troglodyte-type quintessential caveman.

(LINKEvidence from multiple sites in Europe suggests that Neanderthals hunted as a group, using the landscape to aid them.

Neanderthals likely herded hundreds of bison to their death by steering them into a sinkhole in southwestern France. At another site used by Neanderthals, fossilized remains of 18 mammoths and 5 woolly rhinoceroses were discovered at the base of a deep ravine.

“These findings imply that Neanderthals could plan ahead, communicate as a group and make efficient use of their surroundings,” the anthropologists said.

DNA From Neanderthals

When it was discovered that we modern humans got some of our genes from Neanderthal and the implications that Homo sapiens and Neanderthal successfully mated with offspring, it upset the scientific apple cart. The test had to be run several times to assure that it was true. But, by understanding this truth, we began to understand a bit more about what strengths and weaknesses we modern day humans inherited. 

(LINKAbout 30,000 years ago, Homo sapiens migrating out of Africa began encountering Neanderthals, a lineage that had diverged from modern humans hundreds of thousands of years before. Despite their differences, Homo sapiens and Neanderthals mingled, and over time, produced children with genes from both lineages.

Today, the biological remnants of that collision between two distinct populations remain alive in the genomes of Europeans and East Asians.

(LINK) Scientists are increasingly uncovering the effects of Neanderthal ancestry on modern humans, from potential immune boosts to increased risks for depression, obesity, heart attacks, nicotine addiction.

Denisovans Existed

In 2008 in a cave in Siberia, evidence of a human were found dating back 60,000 years. What they found truly amazed them. Although all they had was a finger bone and a giant molar, it was enough to determine, they had found a new branch of man and they called them Denisovans (after the Denisova Cave they were discovered in). (LINK)

Suddenly, our family history got more complicated. Anyone who has had their DNA analyzed by places like Ancestry.com knows what these surprise lineages do - excite one to find out where the family traveled and who they met and mated with along the way. Was it possible Homo sapiens and Denisovans mated like Neanderthal and Homo sapiens did?

DNA From Denisovans 

The next big question after discovering Denisovans' existence was to figure out if we might carry their DNA today. The answer was a resounding YES!

(LINK) Whereas about 1.7 percent of the genomes of the Melanesians came from Neanderthals, between about 1.9 and 3.4 percent of their genomes came from Denisovans, according to the study.

(LINK) Tibet is a country whose average elevation is 4900 meters – about 3 miles. It turns out that most people in Tibet have a variant of EPAS1 that allows them to deal with low oxygen with fewer red blood cells than the rest of us. Their blood stays thin and healthy 3 miles up.

Recently, it was also discovered that the Inuit peoples' ability to handle the cold came from the Denisovans gene, as well.

Denisovans Were Ahead of Homo sapiens

When we Homo sapiens were just spilling over the border of Africa to discover Europe, Denisovans were happily creating things like finely honed bracelets (40,000 years ago) and fine needles (50,000 years ago). 

An Unknown Man Was In Our Past

When Denisovans' DNA was examined, there was a lineage they came from that was unidentified, a man we have yet to discover. Such is the case with Melanesians who have a DNA from an unknown man, as well. As well, Africans were found to also carry some other unknown past relative in their DNA. These kind of findings spark archaeologists like no other finding could. Before, they dug at sites, hoping to find more of the things we knew about, but now they are guaranteed there are men out there we did not know of awaiting major discovery.

(LINK)  While investigating the Denisovan discrepancy, Bohlender and colleagues came to the conclusion that a third group of hominids may have bred with the ancestors of Melanesians. “Human history is a lot more complicated than we thought it was,” Bohlender said.

Just when we thought we understood mankind's evolution, we discover we hadn't a clue. The new research with DNA has shed new light on the patterns of migration and mating, why some branches did not survive, and what we might learn about their lingering DNA that made us stronger or weaker. 

We are being fed bits of knowledge as it comes to us, but also have rigorous testing, as no one wanted to admit we carried Neanderthal DNA and the finding had to be re-verified and repeated to accept the conclusion that even diverse forms of man could produce offspring. 

It makes us wonder what we might have been like if we hadn't mated with Neanderthal, Denisovans and the other unknown man.... Perhaps we wouldn't be as strong or adaptive, as mating with the locals certainly helps the immunities. But, the sad thing for those ancient lineages such as Neanderthal and Denisovans, is that perhaps mating with us created a bottleneck for them and offspring who could not reproduce, as if it is felt Neanderthal-Homo sapiens male offspring were likely sterile.

You only have to look at nature to realize how this can happen when a male lion mates with a female tiger and creates a sterile liger. And, because of the types of genes in a lion and a tiger, a male lion mating with a female tiger exaggerated the male's power into an offspring that was much bigger than either parent -