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Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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Scientists Discover the Oldest Human Genome

The recently decoded genes of a 45,000-year-old man from Siberia are believed to be the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans.

New research published in the journal, Nature, on Wednesday disclosed new clues about the expansion of modern humans from Africa over the last 60,000 years ago and their migrations into Asia and Europe. It also revealed the interaction of modern humans with Neanderthals and other groups during that time.

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Dr. Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said the complete set of genes is the oldest genome of its kind. These genes are twice as old as the next oldest genome recorded.

Dr. Paabo and his colleagues developed methods for pulling out fragments of DNA from fossils and reading the sequences.

The DNA was obtained from a human femur found in 2008 by a fossil collector named Nikolai Peristov. Mr. Perislov traveled along the Irtysh River in Siberia to search for mammoth tusks in the muddy banks, but discovered a human thighbone in the water.

He handed it out to paleontologists at the Russian Academy of Sciences, which then gave it to Dr. Paabo's team.

The team identified the thighbone as a modern. Theyalso discovered a number of genetic fragments on the DNA, which they considered unique samples.

Using the DNA fragments, they created a high-res copy of the complete genome that revealed the thighbone belonged to a man.

The new research also suggests this human was closely related to ancient Europeans and was non-African.

Research showed the DNA had a tiny amount of Neanderthal gene, suggesting this person had some Neanderthal ancestors. Previous studies suggested modern humans and Neanderthals interbred 50,000 years ago.

"They actually mixed with each other and did have children," Dr. Paabo added.

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