Science

A non-expert’s guide to the hype: Why is the Denisovan-Neanderthal “hybrid” such a big deal?

Estimated reading time: 9 mins (1906 words)

So, you may have heard that a paper was recently published on the genome of a girl who lived around 90,000 years ago and was half-Neanderthal and half-Denisovan.

It kinda made the news…

Lots of people were excited, not just geneticists and researchers working with human fossils. And my favorite thing about a science story going viral is that it brings out the comedy gold:

 

To be fair, even Nature’s story on this publication was feeling cheeky:

nature_article

 

But the ultimate tweets were without a doubt the Monty Python references:

 

 

And while the news articles that ran on this story gave a good overview of why researchers were excited about it, without the historical context of how we’ve understood human evolution until now, it can be really hard to understand just how incredible this discovery is.

So let’s back up a little bit…

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