David Reich: ‘Neanderthals were perhaps capable of many modern human behaviours’ | Science | The Guardian
Homo sapiens and Neanderthals had a common ancestor, about 500,000 years ago, before the former evolved as a separate species – in Africa – and the latter as a different species in Europe. Then around 70,000 years ago, when modern humans emerged from Africa, we encountered the Neanderthals, most probably in the Middle East. We briefly mixed and interbred with them before we continued our slow diaspora across the planet.
In doing so, those early planetary settlers carried Neanderthal DNA with them as they spread out over the world’s four quarters. Hence its presence in all those of non-African origin. By contrast, Neanderthal DNA is absent in people of African origins because they remained in our species’s homeland.