Scientists have found evidence for the existence of the mysterious “Ghost population” — an ancient peoplewho lived in Africa about half a million years ago. Traces of an unknown ancestor came when the researchers analyzed the genomes of West African populations and found that up to a fifth of their DNA, apparently, was descended from relatives of the missing. Geneticists suspect that the ancestors of modern West Africans interbred with more archaic humans discovered thousands of years ago, just like the ancient Europeans once mixed their genes with Neanderthals. The results published in the journal Science Advances.
We are the only surviving members of genus Homo
Unlike today, our planet was once home to many related species or subspecies of humans. As a result, modern Europeans are carriers of a small number of genes of Neanderthals, while indigenous Australians, Polynesians and Melanesians inherited genes from the denisovans — another group of ancient people. Previous studies hinted that Africa was wandering, and other ancient people, safe to say this was impossible, as no fossils, no DNA was found.
As reported by the publication The Guardian the study’s lead author Sriram of Sankararaman from the University of California, practically all the genes of West Africans who participated in the study, they got in the inheritance from this unknown archaic population.
During research scientists have obtained the genome of four West African populations and used statistical methods to figure out, could the influx of genes from interbreeding to take place in the distant past. The analysis showed that such interbreeding was observed in each case. In the future, scientists have managed to sequence DNA, which is likely inherited from an ancient relative. Comparing the results obtained with the genes of Neanderthals and the denisovans, the researchers came to the conclusion that DNA had to come from the population of ghosts.
The authors noted that the population of ghosts has had a significant impact on the genome of modern humans. The obtained results are far from final, but according to the best estimates, the population of ghosts broke off from ancestors of Neanderthals and modern humans somewhere between 360 000 and 1 million years ago.