A new study comparing the genomes of 405 West African people to Neanderthal and Denisovan sequences has revealed the “ghost” of a mysterious and previously unknown hominin that once lived alongside our ancestors.

The study, by Arun Durvasula and Sriram Sankararaman of the University of California, Los Angeles, published this week in the journal Science Advance, sequenced the genomes of people from four modern West African populations.

After feeding the detailed data into very powerful computers, and then cross-examining and comparing them to Neanderthal and Denisovan sequences (as well as other modern African genomes) a spectral presence faintly revealed itself. Hidden deep in the DNA code of present-day humans is evidence of an extinct human species, detectable only by a few tell-tale genetic markers lingering in their ancestors.

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