DNA has been taken from a 400,000 year old human skeleton and completely replicated. It is the oldest known human DNA. The skeleton was found in Spain. Researchers were surprised to discover that it was more closely related to Denisovan than Neanderthal hominids. That is, Denisovans  generally had been thought to live in Asia and Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe. The article mistakenly suggests that no Denisovan DNA exists in modern humans. Per the article:


Researchers have uncovered a new clue about human origins after discovering the oldest known human DNA in a legendary Spanish archeological site called Sima de los Huesos, or the "Pit of Bones." Researchers were able to extract DNA from a leg bone that was estimated to be 400,000 years old.  After extracting the DNA from a femur bone, Matthias Meyer, who published his findings in a study in the journal Nature, was able to replicate the entire genome for the ancient human relative. The genetic sequence surprised researchers, who thought it was likely that the sequence would reveal that remains were related to the Neanderthals. Instead, the genetic sequence revealed that this early human species is related to another genetic cousin of modern humans,the mysterious Denisovans.


An ethical question is that of whether we should attempt to clone the species.



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John that is a good ethical question we should ask about human cloning. That would make a great discussion in my Ethics and the Atheist group.



This is interesting and relevant. There are a lot of questions to answer.

'''400,000-year old bones discovered at an archaeological site in northern Spain could revolutionise the way we think about evolution.

The oldest remains of our ancestors ever found, they have been painstakingly excavated and pieced together over the past two decades.

Analysis of their DNA has helped place them on the human family tree – a tree which appears to have many more branches than we previously imagined.

“Before this discovery, we had no data from this period, but with this new methodology and thanks to this exceptional site, we have been able to gain insight into a very, very distant past,” says the co-director of the Atapuerca archaeological site, Juan Luis Arsuaga.

Comparison of the fossils’ genetic code with that from other humans yielded a surprise.

Rather than showing a close relationship with our ancestors the Neanderthals, the fossils are genetically much closer to a population unearthed thousands of kilometers away in Siberia. Very little is currently known about this population, the Denisovans, a sister group of the Neanderthals – with distinct genetic characteristics – who inhabited Siberia until 40,000 years ago.

“It allows us to better understand how the evolution of the Neanderthals occurred, the characteristics of our species, the relationship between different species and the evolutionary lineages in these chronologies, close to half a million years ago,” says Juan Luis Arsuaga.

Excavations continue at Atapuerca in Spain which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for providing what the organisation calls “an invaluable reserve of information about the physical nature and the way of life of the earliest human communities in Europe”.'''

I'm glad you agree with me. As I mentioned earlier, an ethical question is whether we should attempt to clone the species. I believe that we should provided the offspring, at least initially, be given all the human rights of an innocent human being. If it turns out to be too beastly we should humanely contain it and, in this capacity, learn as much as possible from it  

What is there to learn about in cloning early human beings as opposed to other mammals such as the extinct Mammoth or extant sheep ?

Human cloning would be a very messy business, I think.

What is there to learn about in cloning early human beings as opposed to other mammals

Cloning Neanderthals etc. could be extremely enriching and informative - because they are significantly different from us. We know only one way to be a species of human-level intelligence.
Neanderthals' brains were likely bigger than our own, but differently shaped - flatter and bigger in the back - so they probably had better visual skills and less complex social interactions than humans.  This would cause big differences in how they thought.  Perhaps they would use visual metaphors much more and be less suggestible than humans.

There were many evolutionary experiments at how to be intelligent.  Probably different kinds of early human occupied the same ecological niche, so they competed and fought with each other.  It was such a huge loss when the other ways of being intelligent died out, and our sense of loss is reflected in fantasy/sci-fi and in theories about humanlike creatures. 

Undoing that loss by having quasi-humans around would change our thinking about ourselves. 

I wonder if atheists have more Neanderthal DNA on average than religious people :)

I have a big nose, just like Neanderthals.

Red hair?  There's a Neanderthal gene that I think points to red hair. 

I had my DNA analyzed by National Geographic. It is 2.9% Neanderthal and 3% Denisovan. Modern non-Sub-Saharan humans are supposed to have anywhere from 1% to 4% Neanderthal DNA.




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