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October 17, 2004

Erectine harems

A week ago I posted Of lice & "men", mooting the idea of Homo sapien + Homo erectus matings. Well, Carl Zimmer points me to an abstract that indicates there is a gene with a ~2 million year history, with the oldest lineage found among East Asians.1 This hints as possible matings between different human lineages, since the balance of the data seems to point to most of "our" genetic history being in Africa 100,000 years before the present. This gene might have crept in during a time when two human species coexisted in eastern Asia. Since they say that it is a pseudogene there doesn't seem to have been a recent functional significance, so it is unlikely that the gene conferred some localized fitness advantage which allowed it to attain high frequencies in the local Homo sapiens after only minor genetic exchanges allowed it to crossover from Homo erectus.

1- Before you ask, am I "shadowing" Carl? Well, he get's paid to keep track of human evolution (in theory). I can only devote an hour or two here and there depending on the day.

Posted by razib at 09:14 PM