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Neanderthal Genes Hint at Much Earlier Human Migration From Africa

Their study, published on Thursday in the journal Cell, concludes that a wave of modern humans departed Africa far earlier than had been known: some 200,000 years ago. These people interbred with Neanderthals, the new study suggests. As a result, Neanderthals were already carrying genes from modern humans when the next big migration from Africa occurred, about 140,000 years later. The scientists also found evidence that people living somewhere in western Eurasia moved back to Africa and interbred with people whose ancestors never left. The new study suggests that all Africans have a substantially greater amount of Neanderthal DNA than earlier estimates. “The legacy of gene flow with Neanderthals likely exists in all modern humans, highlighting our shared history,” the authors concluded.

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