Human-primate split is recent

Human-primate split more recent than believed

Published: Friday 30 June 2006

Humans may have split from chimpanzees more recently than believed, says a US study. Further, the split might not have been achieved at one stroke but over almost a million years, claims the study, leading to the controversial theory that our two sets of ancestors may have interbred thousands of years after first parting company.

Previous estimates put the split at as much as 7 million years ago. But researchers led by David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston say the split may have occurred no more than 6.3 million years ago, and possibly as recently as 5.4 million. The study was published online in Nature on May 17. The study was based on the most detailed comparison of the genetic codes of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and other primates.

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