Writing in Nature, Krause and colleagues said they sequenced DNA from the mitochondria, a part of the cell, which is passed down virtually intact from a woman to her children. They compared it to DNA from humans, Neanderthals and apes.
The sequence indicates the hominin’s line diverged about a million years ago from the line that gave rise to both humans and Neanderthals and that split about 500,000 years ago.
That makes it younger than Homo erectus, the pre-human that spread out of Africa to much of the world about 1.9 million years ago.
And it would have lived near to both modern humans and Neanderthals. “There were at least three … different forms of humans in this area 40,000 years ago,” Paabo said.
Krause and Paabo are careful not to name the creature a new species just yet. They are now working to sequence nuclear DNA — the DNA that makes up most of the genetic code, which will tell a great deal more about “Woman X”.
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