From the level of function of a single gene up to the movements of entire populations, our evolution was built from mixture.
More and more, it looks like this event happened shortly before a million years ago, in the common ancestors of Neandertal, Denisovan, and African ancestral humans.
Even with whole genomes, scientists can't say very precisely what pattern of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation was in ancient populations like the Neandertals.
Natural selection reduced the variation on human X chromosomes in populations with the most Neandertal and Denisovan mixture. It may have been meiotic drive.
Research has started to show the ways that introgressed genes from Neandertals affect brain shape in living people.
New DNA evidence is revealing the genetic relationships of ancient groups from southern China, showing how they were connected to living people across the region.
Research on ancient genomes has moved way beyond population mixture into broader questions about how ancient people lived and interacted with their environments.
Fragments representing people who lived just before Skhūl and Qafzeh seem outside the expectations for these “early modern humans” or for Neandertals.
A skull from Czechia represents an individual from one of the earliest European modern human populations to encounter Neandertals.
Research highlight: Accurate depiction of uncertainty in ancient DNA research: The case of Neandertal ancestry in Africa
An article in the Journal of Social Archaeology looking at how researchers shaped public perceptions of Neandertal DNA heritage in living people.