The Atavism put together a nice picture showing how the X-woman’s DNA could just be plain old Neanderthal genes. I’ve shamelessly stolen it for my own post.
Oh wow, a link the from The Loom is enough to make this Carl Zimmer fanboy’s day!
…except that’s not what Atavism said:
“So, there are three possibilities for the Denisova sample:
1.It could be a new species,
2.It could be an ancient mitochondrial lineage retained in eastern Neanderthal populations but lost elsewhere
3.It could be the first H. erectus sequence.
We’ll need more genes (Krausse et al. report they are working on sequencing genes from the nuclear genome) or more complete specimens to know for sure but I’ll throw caution to the wind and say I think the first scenario to be the most likely and the second the least probable (remembering of course, that I’m not an anthropologist and these are pretty subjective estimates!). Perhaps I’m displaying some biases because I also think numbers one and three would be the cooler results. If either of those scenarios are true then we can add a third human species (alongside the Neanderthals and the ‘Hobbit’ H. floresiensis) that modern humans might have interacted with – it’s just so fascinating to imagine our ancestors living alongside other human species and how differently the world might have turned out if those other species had survived the few thousand years that separate us.”
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Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The Loom. He is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.