Multiple lines of evidence indicate that modern humans evolved within the last 200,000 years and spread out of Africa starting about 60,000 years ago. Before that, however, the details get a bit complicated. We’re still arguing about which ancestral population might have given rise to our lineage. Somewhere about 600,000 years ago, that lineage split off Neanderthals and Denisovans, and both of those lineages later interbred with modern humans after some of them left Africa.
Figuring out as much as we currently know has required a mix of fossils, ancient DNA, and modern genomes. A new study argues
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