Questions will always be a part of history, with new discoveries that can bring the truth forward.
Evolution of Mankind
In 2022, Svante Paabo won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of genomes of extinct human evolution, a truly scientific breakthrough. His discovery gives us new insights on human evolution with the existence of an unknown human species called Denisovan. Paabo has spent his life attempting to crack the DNA code of man.
In 2008, a 40,000-year-old finger bone was discovered in the Denisovan Cave, located in the Altai mountains of Siberia. It was fortunate that the cold Siberian weather helped to preserve the DNA.
The cave had been occupied by Neanderthals, and early Homo sapiens, along with hyenas and wolves. It shows the discovery of interbreeding shaping the course of evolution. Neanderthals went extinct some 40,000 years ago, with Denisovans 20,000 years ago. But the question remains about what killed them, science attributes it to several theories: overbreeding, competition, transmitting lethal diseases, even climate changes.
The Ancient DNA Discovery
It was 300,000 to 400,000 years ago when Homoheidelbergensis left Africa for Eurasia, and a split began with the Neanderthals heading west with the Denisovans to the east. Over thousands of years, there have been many hominids, but only one remains, Homo sapiens. The Denisovans are closer to humans than the Neanderthals.
It is definitely a tangled and complex tree of evolution.
Implications of Paabo's discovery give science possible implications for medical discoveries showing potential risks of diseases. There is so much science can learn from ancient DNA.
The new field of Paleoanthropology is a branch of anthropology of humans and pre-humans. DNA changed course when it revealed that hominins found in the Denisovan Cave were closely related to the Neanderthals. The Denisovans are less well-known than the Neanderthals, but they were separate groups splitting thousands of years ago.
Science is constantly evolving, giving up secrets of human evolution. And it's a complex chart showing that interbreeding was apparently prevalent among species long before we thought. It makes one wonder what other discoveries will be made.
There are several museums with exhibitions of humans and their origins. Among them are:
- The Museum of Natural History, New York
- The Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
- The Perot Museum of Natural History, Dallas, Texas