Study: Artificial intelligence help discover a ‘ghost’ genome of a hybrid ancestor

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

For a long time, researchers have struggled to understand the origins of a unique hybrid ancestor of modern humans – a young girl who lived over 50,000 years ago. Initially, she was believed to be the only one with a unique genomic sequence.

Only recently, scientists, with the help of artificial intelligence, finally understood that she was not the only one who shared the ghost genome. Researchers have found a connection between her and the human ancestors from Africa from millions of years ago. According to the team, when the human population migrated out of Africa about 80,000 years ago, they gave rise to the different kinds of human population we see today. Over the years, not only did they reproduce within the population, but they also bred with other human species of, Neanderthals and Denisovans.

With the help of deep learning algorithms of artificial intelligence that have helped researchers thoroughly go through the complicated ancient and modern human genomic sequence, the scientific community has been able to detect another ‘third introgression’ or the ‘ghost’ archaic group of human ancestors that bred with the African ancestors. The team used the Bayesian inference, a statistical method, to arrive at this conclusion.

In the study published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’, researchers concluded that this third ‘ghost’ ancestor group could have been linked to the Neanderthal-Denisova population or could have stemmed from the Denisova population – hinting that the current human population as we see today also contains elements from Neanderthals and Denisovan species.

The scientists further added that, even if the details from the Neanderthal and Denisovan group was not considered, there is still much content in the genome that are very diverse and need further analysis – suggesting that there are more ‘ghost’ ancestors that we do not know about, yet.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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