The most significant genetic changes occurred in humans prior to the split between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, some 520,000 to 630,000 years ago. A decade ago, paleontology revealed that modern humans share a measurable amount of genetic material with Neanderthals.
Scientists revealed that the DNA of humans as a separate species is only seven percent unique, an unexpectedly low figure indicating that we have more common with our prehistoric ancestors than earlier theorized.
The purpose of the study, published in the journal Science Advances on Friday, was to determine what parts of human DNA are specific to modern people. Researchers examined 279 samples of modern person’s DNA, along with DNA from the remains of Neanderthals and Denisovans, dated between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago.
A lesser part of human genes uniquely belong to people living throughout the world today – only 1.5 percent. Only this extract of our DNA contain valuable information about distinctive features of modern humanity, which is “actually a very young species.”
“We can tell those regions of the genome are highly enriched for genes that have to do with neural development and brain function,” University of California, Santa Cruz, computational biologist Richard Green, a co-author of the paper, told AP.