Humanity's long, lonely road

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Science  18 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6254, pp. 1270
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6254.1270-a

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The oldest nuclear DNA ever sequenced from a human ancestor has shaken up our family tree. At a meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution last week, paleogeneticists reported that they had analyzed nuclear DNA from mysterious Spanish fossils thought to be 300,000 to 400,000 years old. The result settles a long-standing puzzle about the identity of the fossils. It also implies that the ancestors of modern humans parted ways with their archaic relatives hundreds of thousands of years earlier than was thought. That presents human origins experts with a new puzzle—the possibility of an unexpectedly early origin for our own species, Homo sapiens.