JUNE 1, 2006
HUMAN & CHIMP
Ancestors Might Have Interbred
The earliest known ancestors of
modern humans might have reproduced with early chimpanzees to
create a hybrid species, a new genetic analysis suggests.
Based on the study of human and chimp
genomes, the scientists believe the split between the human
and chimpanzee lines occurred much more recently than
previously thought—no more than 6.3 million years ago and
perhaps as recently as 5.4 million years ago.
chimpanzee ancestors began branching apart on the primate
evolutionary tree some 9 million years ago, but there are
significant gaps in the fossil record. The new analysis
suggests that a full split, which scientists call speciation,
wasn't achieved for nearly 4 million years and might have
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