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October 7 2012
Modern Europeans interbred with Neanderthals as recently as 37,000 years ago, a study has found.
Scientists from Harvard and the Max Planck Institute made the estimate in an attempt to work out why the Neanderthals are more closely related to peoples from outside Africa.
Their findings suggest that when modern humans emerged from that continent they encountered these other hominids and had children with them, who are the ancestors of people across Europe and Asia.
The new study backs up recent research which suggests that early humans and Neanderthals lived side by side in caves in northern Israel.
When the Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010 it revealed that people outside Africa share slightly more genetic variants with Neanderthals than Africans do.
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