Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/5/2013 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Human DNA found in 400,000 year old fossil.

It's time to go back to the drawing board over human evolution, following a discovery based on the analysis of prehistoric hominid DNA. Of course, scientists are always redrawing the human evolutionary tree as new discoveries reveal new complexities.

Many branches of the human evolutionary tree are founded on little more than a few bone fragments. However, DNA is helping to fill in major gaps.

Many branches of the human evolutionary tree are founded on little more than a few bone fragments. However, DNA is helping to fill in major gaps.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/5/2013 (9 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: human, evolution, DNA, denisovan, neanderthal, homo sapiens


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The analysis of prehistoric hominid DNA, dating back 400,000 years, reveals that the DNA is strikingly human. Until now, the oldest human DNA ever found dated back only 100,000 years and the now-smashed version of the human evolutionary tree says that humans as a species are only 100,000 years old.

We now suspect that may be wrong.

In the journal Nature, scientists reported that DNA recovered from a bone taken from a prehistoric hominid site in Spain, is human and dates back four times farther than any other sample of modern human DNA. This suggests that genetically modern humans have walked the Earth for nearly half-a-million years.

It's a shattering find because it will require the reworking of the human family tree and raises a lot of new and perplexing questions.

The DNA was extracted from a thigh bone fossil previously thought to have come from a forerunner species to the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals are a distinct species of human that died out in the past 50,000 years.

Instead of matching Neanderthal DNA however, the sample more closely matches Denisovan DNA, whis was another species of human that lived around 80,000 years ago in Siberia.

So what is Denisovian DNA doing far away from Siberia in a place where Neanderthal DNA should be?

The answer is purely speculation, at least until further DNA and peer review are performed. However, a preferred scenario is that our pre-human ancestors traveled more and interbred more than we might have previously thought.

Although there are some key differences between species of pre-human ancestors, the most recent ancestors of modern humans were quite similar to one another and they interbred. In fact, modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens (that's us) are believed to have interbred with Denisovans and Neanderthals both. A minority of living humans today carry DNA traces from both Denisovans and Neanderthals.

Neanderthals and Denisovan humans both became extinct yielding to modern humans who themselves evolved out of Africa and probably out-competed and out-bred their earlier cousins.

If the story of human evolution makes your head spin, you're not alone. Ultimately, anthropologists have a modicum of evidence from which to draw upon and make conclusions. New discoveries, which happen all the time, lead to new knowledge and periodically compel anthropologists to redraw the human family tree.

Although these discoveries can cause shifts between the branches, the basic story of human evolution remains enshrined in scientific theory. There is virtually zero doubt among professional, peer-reviewed scientists that humans evolved from primitive ancestors, as did apes and all other organisms on Earth. Although it should be mentioned-to clarify, that humans are in no way descended from apes and the story of human evolution does not assert this oft-mistaken claim.

In fact, evolution seems to be a basic natural fact with real-world implications. For example, evolution is the reason why antibiotics are becoming useless as people overuse them. If evolution did not occur, then new versions of antibiotics would not be necessary.

Understanding human origins is key to understanding humanity itself, as well as deciphering history and prehistory. Hominid migration patterns followed animals, diseases followed humans, and behind humans came the domestication of crops and animals, the evolution of new diseases, and civilization itself. The story of human evolution is important because it helps us understand ourselves and our place in the world, and how the creative forces which shaped us work.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Green

Sunday's global warming march displays everything that's wrong with global warming activism Watch

Image of Displays like this are both absurd and counterproductive. The discussion about global warming needs to move from political rhetoric to one informed by ethics and moral guidance.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This Sunday, thousands of climate activists will march on the streets of New York, in an effort to rekindle due concern over the environment. While the cause appears noble, the entire effort may be off to a doomed start. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This Sunday, ... continue reading


Just in time for Halloween! 'Werewolf' cat enchanting fanciers Watch

Image of The cats' sickly appearance is only skin deep. Aside from the patchy hair that makes them notable, the first few generations of Lykoi cats seem rather healthy thus far.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Gaining in popularity among cat fanciers and breeders, the "Lykoi" cat is most peculiar looking. Many would instantly assume the patchy critter is inflicted with a sort of mange. The "Lykoi" cat, or "werewolf" cat is in fact carefully raised for its unusual ... continue reading


Antarctic sea ice reaches record levels and why that's bad Watch

Image of Antarctic sea ice continues to expand by about 1.5 percent coverage every year. This trend has continued since 1979 and it thought to be driven by global warming.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Research ships and other vessels traveling through Antarctic waters will have to be very careful this year because Antarctic ice has expanded rapidly, increasing the hazard to ships. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An incredible quantity of sea ice has formed ... continue reading


Terrifying new discovery: Spinosaurus dinosaur was the largest predator ever to walk the Earth Watch

Image of The monster's most distinctive feature was a row of spines that created an enormous sail down the middle of its back. Scientists think it was used for display purposes rather than to trap heat or store fat.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Described as a cross between a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a crocodile and a whale, the Spinosaurus was the largest predator ever to walk the Earth . or swim in its rivers. A recent discovery, the fierce beast is the first dinosaur known to have been adapted to an ... continue reading


VIDEO: Amazing video catches volcanic eruption along with sonic boom Watch

Image of Mount Tavurvur is known as a rather active volcano, one that caused many deaths and covered a nearby town in ash in 1994.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mount Tavurvur, a volcano in Papua New Guinea, erupted late last month on August 29, throwing ash high into the air and causing a shock wave and resultant sonic boom. Phil McNamara caught the rare sight while boating near the New Guinea coast. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Sun spits STORM OF FIRE at Earth, will the northern lights be visible? Watch

Image of The Sun has an 11-year cycle of activity and is presently at its maximum for the current cycle.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A powerful solar storm approaching Earth should not be a direct hit, removing much cause for alarm. On Wednesday, the Sun spewed an X1.6 class solar flare aimed right at Earth, but the bulk of the resulting coronal mass ejection appears on track to miss Earth, passing ... continue reading


Deforestation of the Amazon continues at an alarming rate despite Brazil's best policies Watch

Image of Illegal logging has become an incredibly large part of the deforestation problem.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Brazilian government has released figures which reveal that destruction of the world's largest rainforest accelerated last year by 29%, totally reversing gains made since 2009. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The figures were compiled from satellite data ... continue reading


Is it getting hot in here? Greenhouse gas levels hit historic highs Watch

Image of A new study has revealed that the level of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere have hit record highs, and suggest that the Earth is losing its ability to disperse the heat retaining gases.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Atmospheric temperatures have climbed much faster than scientists have expected and the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high last years according to new research published by the U.N.'s agency on meteorology. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Where are the wildfires? Global warming theory says California should be in flames... Watch

Image of California ought to be in flames, but without late-summer thunderstorms to spark fires, the state simply remains dry.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Washington Times recently reported that a mild fire season in the Western US is disrupting the global warming narrative --a sort of inconvenient truth for climate change proponents. The article is certainly correct, the fire season is well below average, so far, ... continue reading


After decades of conservation, California's blue whale population may be back for good Watch

Image of A new study has shown that California's population of blue whales has recovered near pre-whaling levels.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study released by the University of Washington has revealed that California blue whales have made a remarkable comeback thanks to conservation efforts, and now are nearing 19th-century levels. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This remarkable recovery makes ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter