Not separate, but not equal

A new paper in Nature fleshes out some details about the relationships between Denisovans, Neanderthals, and modern humans, as well as possible others. I believe the figure above gives the flavor of the general findings in terms of phylogenetics, though if you want more I recommend Carl Zimmer in The New York Times. It has to be noted that it’s incredible that such high resolution sequencing could be done on these ancient fossils, when ~10 years ago we were excited about one modern genome. Also, I am struck by, though not surprised, that it doesn’t seem to be that modern humans (our lineage) had too many distinctive major genetic differences from our cousins. Finally, it does seem that the human phylogeny is more properly defined as a graph than a tree. But don’t forget that it doesn’t seem like all the edges were weighted the same. We’re a whole lot more Neo-African than we are Neanderthal or Denisovan.

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