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27 February 2019

Anthropology: What We have Learned over the Last Decade

Over the last decade, the analysis of ancient DNA has emerged as cutting-edge research that uses methods (genetics) and concepts (hybridization) not previously common in the field of anthropology. Today, we are the only human species on the planet, but we now know that we had offspring with others that no longer exist and have inherited some of their genes. What does it mean to be a hybrid? What are the implications of having the genetic material of other hominins in our blood? Was this hybridization a factor in the Neanderthals’ extinction? Does it shift our perspective on human diversity today? Both genetic and fossil evidence gathered over the last decade offer a more diverse and dynamic image of our origins. Many of the keys to Homo sapiens’ success at adapting may possibly lie in this miscegenation that not only does not harm our identity, but probably constitutes a part of our species’ hallmark and idiosyncrasies.

By María Martinón-Torres in Towards a New Enlightenment? A Transcendent Decade.