Oldest Human DNA Discovered, Muddles Picture of Our Origin

DNA from Spanish bones beats old record by almost 300,000 years

  • Share
  • Read Later
Cesar Manso / AFP / Getty Images

A picture taken on November 22, 2013 shows a fossil foot, found in the Spanish cave Sima de los Huesos, during a presentation at the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos.

Scientists have decoded the world’s oldest human DNA sequence, beating the previous record by almost 300,000 years, and at the same time confusing what we know of our early relatives.

Published in Nature on Wednesday, the study found that bone fragments from the Spanish cave Sima de los Huesos had less genetic similarity with European Neanderthals than with Denisovans, a human species believed to have resided exclusively in Siberia, reports National Geographic.

“The fact that they show a mitochondrial genome sequence similar to that of Denisovans is irritating,” says the lead author of the study, Matthias Meyer of Max Planck Institute. “Our results suggest that the evolutionary history of Neanderthals and Denisovans may be very complicated and possibly involved mixing between different archaic human groups.”

Meyer added that the DNA was preserved thanks to the cave’s stable temperatures, and that new advances in gene-sequencing technology played a great part in making the discovery possible.

[National Geographic]

60 comments
Rio
Rio

Well does that change to origin of man?

JoeColehour
JoeColehour

A new discovery that contradicts what we once thought was truth called "irritating?" I'd call a chance to learn something new; fascinating. 

DallasMarcone
DallasMarcone

Scientists don't sit back and think of ways they can disprove the existence of God. They simply follow the evidence and there is absolutely no reason for us to believe that carbon dating is not an accurate depiction of how old organic material is. 

SWGSSSlacker
SWGSSSlacker

Believe what you want to people, you have a choice in the matter. The truth is no one TRULY knows specifically where we came from or how we came to be what we are today. I believe in raw evidence over mythical scripture. Regardless of how old the foot that was found is it's still an important human evolution find.

It's evolution baby.....

No, I don't believe in God, the Tooth Fairy or Peter Pan.



 

otterhound
otterhound

There are 2 types of DNA , nuclear and mitochondrial . Mitochondrial DNA passes from mother to offspring unaltered an complete . That's right , none of dad's included . They traced using this type of DNA .


Their perspective is flawed concerning what the results show in my opinion . Instead of showing a mixture of the various groups , I believe that it shows a common origin and resulting dispersal , but I don't have any letters behind my name and no one will notice my puny words and thoughts . 

rhodesa
rhodesa

I comment therefore I am... PHIL 412 Yell Univ.

RobertEl-Adham
RobertEl-Adham

Scientists and their outlandish use of numbers.  People are funny and very well over paid.

smokescience
smokescience

Oh yay, more people arguing over whose "theory" is the most unfactual. So many people take a couple 101 courses and have the universe all figured out.

JeanineJoyJOY
JeanineJoyJOY

That he found it irritating is just a statement about his current emotional stance. It indicates he finds many things in his life irritating. The filters in his brain have been programmed to look for and high-light to his conscious mind things that will allow him to experience more of this habitual emotion.

Someone who has developed a habit of being interested or curious would find the results to be interesting. Someone else could find them fascinating.

I think it is humorous that the title states "it muddles picture of our origin" which seems to indicate there was agreement about this prior to the findings. There is no agreement. 


It really does not matter that we do not agree. If someone has a position they are comfortable with they should not need others to agree with them to maintain their position. If they are uncomfortable with their understanding/conclusions they tend to feel threatened when others have different views but they are far better off just finding a position they do not need others to agree with to attain a personal level of comfort. 


Personally, I'm not all that interested in where we came from. I'm far more interested in where we are going and I don't think the past will ever tell us the answers to that. If you know a genealogist, just someone who has researched their own family history has likely found inaccuracies in what has been passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, even in generations that were alive during the genealogist's lifetime. It all depends on perception anyway. Each of us perceive from our unique personal perspective so no two people will remember the past in exactly the same way. If you don't believe that, go to a reunion and ask how others remember things and compare it to your recollections. Both are right, from their own perspective.


BonnyMay
BonnyMay

the ape has genetically identical to human only one chromosome off.  I think they keep finding early apes.  And I don't believe we came from apes either.  Also, how do they know that carbon dating is actually correct?  unless you can carbon date something that you know exactly the age without it to prove it is correct.  the thing is they always say it's off by 100 years to 1000 years depending so there is no proof it is right!


DALeggett
DALeggett

Irritating? I don't think it is good scientific theory to expect everything to come out the way you expect it, in fact that is something called 'confirmation bias'. I suggest you check your ego.

心宿
心宿

it sounds like we will have a long life

schroeder.cary
schroeder.cary

Sounds like scientist could soon make a Jurassic Park from at least 300,000 years ago.  People who follow the bible word for word, obviously never read it word for word.

mikeylikeychiptole
mikeylikeychiptole

but jim bob duggar says the earth is 5k years old.  i dont know what to believe?

BabuG.Ranganathan
BabuG.Ranganathan

HOW DID MY DNA MAKE ME? (Internet Article) When you divide a cake, the parts are smaller than the original cake and the cake never gets bigger. When we were a single cell and that cell divided, the new cells were the same size as the original and we got bigger. New material had to come from somewhere. That new material came from food. The sequence of molecules in our DNA directed the molecules from our mother's food, we received in the womb, to become new cells forming all the tissues and organs of our body. When you understand how your DNA works, you'll also understand how egg yolks can become chickens. Read my popular Internet article: HOW DID MY DNA MAKE ME? Just google the title to access the article.

This article will give you a good understanding of how DNA works, as well as cloning and genetic engineering.

Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan*
(B.A. Bible/Biology)

Ulises_Jofre
Ulises_Jofre

 But, is there evolution if there is no time? How will evolutionary biology meet new physical paradigms about time, space and so on? Will new conceptual changes deny evolution? Or on the contrary, will it become a more extraordinary process, full of astonishing implications? Will human being nature become different as science progresses? Can knowledge change human beings, can it change you? Along these lines, a serious-funny b-book recommendation, a preview in goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another leisure-suggestion

zeustiak
zeustiak

“The fact that they show a mitochondrial genome sequence similar to that of Denisovans is irritating,” says the lead author of the study, Matthias Meyer of Max Planck Institute.

Yes, so very irritating that the study showed our neat little theories about human migration and evolution are incorrect...

JoeColehour
JoeColehour

@rhodesa Descartes reference. Not one of my favorites but had some good points. 

drsmolley
drsmolley

@RobertEl-AdhamTruly too funny. As if math and the use of numbers to figure out how the universe works is a bad idea. By the way, what  is the alternative? Read a book by anonymous authors? 

At least with numbers and a recipe (materials/methods section in a scientific article) there is a way to verify the results.

Questioner57
Questioner57

@RobertEl-Adham This comment makes me reflect on preachers, and their outlandish use of mythology.  The one at my mothers church is more overpaid than many scientists.  

Questioner57
Questioner57

@JeanineJoyJOY

DNA has EVERYTHING to do with where we are headed, because it IS everything about where we came from.  The Genealogy comment has nothing to do with this, because it is all based on people's memories (or sometimes lies about who a child's father might REALLY be).  DNA IS the real evidence.  NOT someone's changeable memory.

BrianMulkey
BrianMulkey

@JeanineJoyJOY  If one person remembers the reunion's group consisting of 12 people, and another person remembers the group consisting of 14 people, is there such a thing of an objective truth of how many people actually attended such reunion?



JohnStell
JohnStell

@BonnyMay new studies, which are finding that the so call 'junk' DNA isn't so junky, are finding less similarity - down to a % in the 80's or 70's.  Even if it was the '98%' that is claimed (remember the are looking for closeness.  Oh, their eye is fixed on it.  They don't want to find differences) do you know how many millions of differences that is in the DNA?  You act like 'oh, it's just one little tweak and monkey becomes man'. 

The other little complicating factor is actual science (read: observed) shows that mutations never add beneficial info.  It's simply myth given a 'scientific' name = theory.  Let's claim something that we've never observed has happened countless trillions of times.

Questioner57
Questioner57

@BonnyMay That is the real beauty of science.  Science does not care what you 'believe'.  

itsu
itsu

@BonnyMay Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,700 years, it is only reliable for dating objects up to about 60,000 years old (so say the scientists) but logic tells me that if the half life is 5,700yrs then only things that are less then 11,400 yrs can be accurately aged, again assuming that their theory of carbon dating is even truly accurate. I know for a fact that I have watched science overthrow previously highly esteemed theories upside down and that is a fact as apposed to their theories which are constantly being turned upside down. I believe the Bible which states that YaHooWaH (God's name) created the heaven and earth in 6 literal days because He said that we should work 6 days and rest on the 7th day just as He worked to create the world in 6 days and rested the 7th. I believe His explanation to be true, He wants us to rest on the literal 7th day just as He did.

Sherman
Sherman

@BonnyMay Do you have any idea how carbon dating works? It is based on the speed at which the Carbon atom decays through its' various forms. The rate is constant over time, so by analyzing the types of carbon in a specimen, you can determine the age of the object within the margin of error from one decay state to the next. That is why there is a margin of 100-1000 years or more. 

Questioner57
Questioner57

@BabuG.Ranganathan There is zero science supporting creation.  If you think there can't be evolution, because things can't 'pop out of nowhere', then please explain how your 'god' popped out of nowhere. (Hint: saying 'is/was/always will be is a moronic answer, because IF that is allowed to be valid, then same could be said for Big-Bang/Evolution or any other theory or myth - and a 'creator simply becomes unnecessary.  Among most of the sciences - Geology/Biology/Archaeology, etc,etc, there is consistency and strong agreement.  Please show me any 2 religions that agree ?  Please explain why so many religions claim to be the 'one true religion'. Please explain why there were so many parts left out of the modern version of bible ?

patrick.ballenger
patrick.ballenger

@zeustiak The scientific method takes findings like these and works with them.  Religion attempts to disprove anything that disagrees with whatever pastor's interpretation you happen to believe in.

hivemaster
hivemaster

@zeustiak Science reformulates and reconsiders based on new data.  Religion does not.

smokescience
smokescience

sure but that's about faith, one either has it or they do not. Arguing theories without knowing all the details that conclude that hypothesis is just chapter reactions.

drsmolley
drsmolley

@JohnStell Really? No beneficial mutations ever? What about the emergence of antibiotic resistance seen in the last fifty or so years, coinciding with the introduction of antibiotics. Maybe not beneficial to us but definitely so to the bacterium involved.

Not the only example to be sure, but illustrates how selective pressure (adapt or die) plus generational times measured not in decades but minutes to hours allows us to see processes that otherwise are too slow. 

patrick.ballenger
patrick.ballenger

@itsu @BonnyMay And this is why people need to read in order to understand.  you can't have a good discussion without understanding the fundamentals.

aaronautical
aaronautical

@itsu @BonnyMay It wasn't until the third day of creation that the luminaries (Genesis 1:14) were made available for the purpose of telling time. So 24-hour days cannot Scripturally be used to support that belief. Honestly, believers, the absurdity of the 6 24-hour day creation belief is what makes the evolution argument believable in comparison. You have to be reasonable and sound of mind to have faith based on evidence. Stop  relying on such silly interpretations. These creative days were more akin to epochs.

alkascak
alkascak

@itsu @BonnyMay  this is not how carbon dating works.  It takes 5,700 years for half of the carbon-14 to decay.  Of the remaining 50% it will take another 5,700 years for half of that to decay.  It is not half decays and the other half follows.  Don't go criticizing carbon dating if you do not even understand how it works in the first place.  

skeeter62
skeeter62

And who has been documenting the rate of carbon decomposition since the beginning of time? Find that person and then tell me that carbon decomposition rate has been the same, constant rate FOREVER..

pbass4life
pbass4life

BonnyMay: Silly Goose.... instead of listening to a uneducated pastor flap his pie hole once a week you might want to do some research on the web, you know, read. I know reading is hard but you can start here:  http://www.radiocarbon.com/accelerator-mass-spectrometry.htm.    And to put things into perspective for you, if science dates something to lets say to 1 million years old give or take ten thousand years either way it would be the same as me stating that my Brother will be over for dinner at 5:00 pm and he shows up 10 seconds on either side of 5:00 pm. Critical thinking is hard right?

zeustiak
zeustiak

@hivemaster @zeustiak I was sarcastically criticizing the way too many scientists treat current theories as if they are religious dogma.  

LizThompson
LizThompson

yes they change there scientific answer constantly but to think only 1 species on earth is capable of evolution is crazy why havent any other species changed like we have theres animals that have been on the earth way longer than us.

patrick.ballenger
patrick.ballenger

@smokescience I agree, but you don't have to know the entirety of evolution to argue for the correctness of the Scientific method (and that would be impossible anyway).  Any pieces of the puzzle uncovered by the Method are much better than the alternative.  I have no problem with Faith, but Faith needs to stay out of science.  Just "believe and be happy", and on the flip side, "let the believers believe".  The two don't mix.


The argument should end with "I believe in what the bible says".   Trying to shoehorn Faith into a scientific discussion is ridiculous, and I feel correction is in order if that's what's being put forth.


There are some good questions raised by Intelligent design folks, but they're things science needs to figure out eventually.  I personally have a problem with filling knowledge gaps with God.  Science has filled those gaps time and time again, and I think will continue to do so.

patrick.ballenger
patrick.ballenger

@skeeter62 the rate of decay is pretty fundamental to how atoms work.  You'll need to prove why your alternate theory (whatever that is) contradicts the established truth of the rate of decay.

Questioner57
Questioner57

@skeeter62 as long as you are not basing all your thinking on any of the totally unfounded myths - most of which have no proof or verification of anything, then maybe you can comment about science

skeeter62
skeeter62

Oh, the all knowing among us...WHO do you know that has been documenting the rate of carbon decomposition since the beginning of time? Find that person or even their solid proof and then tell me that the rate has been constant over the billions of years you claim the earth has existed.

aaronautical
aaronautical

@ToddHound @Sherman @BonnyMay Seems like changes in radiation levels would throw all the carbon dating estimations off. Was there any major changes to radiation levels globally? All that water that fell from the skies during the Flood of Noah's day would have exposed the earth to alot more cosmic radiation and the obvious changes to atmospheric conditions would be enough of a change to the variables of measuring the rate of decay to completely throw off the numbers.

Icu812
Icu812

My critical thinking tells me you must be an atheist, not hard at all.

DonBarker
DonBarker

@pbass4life

perhaps you should do a little reading on your own instead sticking you head in the evolutionary sand!Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist), is certainly one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology. He wrote this very revealing comment (the italics were in the original). It illustrates the implicit philosophical bias against Genesis creation—regardless of whether or not the facts support it.

‘Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen.

Questioner57
Questioner57

@BryanBrennan don't kneel in anyone's or anything's presence, especially mine, and especially any preacher of any faith, or maybe even any single scientist.  But consider all the claims made by religion over the years - such as 'earth is the center of the solar system', and then go grab a telescope, plot the motion of the planets, and confirm Galileo's observation that the SUN is the center of the Solar System.  And then ask yourself why, in the 400 years since, the Catholic Church has not officially admitted that Galileo was correct ?  Apply similar science (Geology maybe) to the young-earth creationists claim that earth was 'made' less than 10,000 years ago, and debunk that line of crap also.  If you have strong belief in 'faith' maybe go to a desert and 'pray for rain' .  count the days you do so.  If/when it finally rains, try to repeat the process.  Then travel to other deserts and pray for the same number of days.  See if it EVER works (rains) twice.  One foundation of science is repeatability.  If what ever faith you choose to follow has none, maybe it is wise to question it.

BryanBrennan
BryanBrennan

@Questioner57 @dane1964 And of course you are the ultimate authority whose ideas we should have faith in. Should i kneel in your presence?

Questioner57
Questioner57

@dane1964 The embarrassing part about most of the comments I have read in response to this 'SCIENCE.time.com' article is how few people seem to understand science at all.  Comments such as these make readers the world over laugh at how uneducated so many Americans are.  Please consider how your comment sounds to a variety of people:  substitute 'Santa Claus' or 'Great Pumpkin' for your word 'Creator'.    Carbon Dating, as with many things in Science is FAR more provable than any creator.  Your comment suggests you either never took a science class, or never understood those you took.  

dane1964
dane1964

@CaihlynTatsu The embarrassing part is that there is no way to prove that the particles haven't changed in the last 250 years, yet the claim is made for 300,000.

Carbon Dating is an unprovable mechanism for those who fail to believe in a Creator. 

CaihlynTatsu
CaihlynTatsu

In response to Liz: Read.  All life forms have evolved.  There is plenty of evidence and intermediary forms for a whole host of creatures, not just hominids.  Seems like someone ignored your need for science education.



CaihlynTatsu
CaihlynTatsu

This is rather embarrassing...but you are confusing the decay of biological organisms: cells and tissues, with the radioactive decay of the isotope carbon-14.  Unless the elemental particles have somehow changed within the past few million years, the formula derived by the constant rate of decay of carbon-14 should be fine.  However, in the above article, Carbon-14 dating is not mentioned...they analyzed mitochondrial DNA.

dane1964
dane1964

@Sherman @LizThompson  they have changed no doubt, but they have not changed into another species. If that were true, why isn't there fossils of these cross species?


Carbon dating relies on all things decaying in the same manner. But if the evironments are different the decay will be different. We cannot observe 2,000 years ago albeit 100,000 years ago. So how can we "know" how something decayed?

Sherman
Sherman

@LizThompson Almost every species have changed based on circumstances, not just humans.