Neanderthal Inner Ear Manifests Possible Interbreeding with Ancient Humans

By | Jul 08, 2014 03:48 AM EDT

(Photo : Discovery)

A 100 thousand-year-old human skull found in China 35 years ago exhibits characteristics that are thought to occur only among Neanderthals of Europe and western Asia, a study stated on Monday.

According to findings published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the fossilized ancient human skull known as Xujiayao 15 was found to have an inner ear similar to Neanderthals, proving that such characteristics are not unique to that of the humans' extinct kin.

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Though new age humans are the only living members of the human genealogy, it has been believed that several other human lineages were living alongside their ancestors, including the archaic humans known as Neanderthals who lived in Eurasia around 200,000 and 30,000 years ago.

The remains, found with human teeth and bone fragments, were further investigated by American researchers since similarities in some characteristics manifests probable interbreeding among ancient humans and Neanderthals.

At first, scientists thought that the remains were that of a modern human though further assessment through micro-CT scans revealed that the inner ear is very similar to that of Neanderthals.

Since the 90s, examinations show that almost all Neanderthal skulls have a particular pattern of semi-circular canals found in the inner ear which has been used as a marker to set them apart from both ancient and modern humans.

In an interview, Washington University Physical Anthropology Professor Erik Trinkaus stated that the discovery is a new addition to the "rich confusion of theories that attempt to explain human origins, migrations, patterns and possible interbreedings," the Global Times reported on Tuesday.

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