Artificial Intelligence Helps Identify Previously Unknown Human Species
By combining deep learning algorithms and statistical methods, investigators have identified, in the genome of Asian individuals, the footprint of a new hominid who cross-bred with its ancestor’s tens of thousands of years ago.
Artificial Intelligence may have just helped scientists discovered the footprint of an extinct species of humans thanks to an algorithm that indicates Neanderthals commonly bred with a previously unknown species.
Investigations of the genome of certain Asian populations have revealed a footprint of a previously unknown species of humans that was the result from interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovan’s.
This mysterious human species, who is thought to have lived on Earth tens of thousands of years ago, then bred with modern humans who migrated to Asia after moving out of Africa.
This discovery comes shortly after scientists revealed the discovery of a hybrid species born from a Neanderthal Mother and Denisovan Father.
The new study was performed by scientists from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG) of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and the Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu.
The new paper revealed that similar mystery species may not have been uncommon in the distant past.
The newly discovered human ancestor was identified using deep learning algorithms and tell us that ancient human species were interbreeding with modern humans tens of thousands of years ago, changing the way we look at human origins.
Jaume Bertranpetit, principal investigator at the IBE and head of Department at the UPF explained that: “About 80,000 years ago, the so-called Out of Africa occurred, when part of the human population, which already consisted of modern humans, abandoned the African continent and migrated to other continents, giving rise to all the current populations.”
“We know that from that time onwards, modern humans crossbred with Neanderthals in all the continents, except Africa, and with the Denisovans in Oceania and probably in South-East Asia, although the evidence of cross-breeding with a third extinct species had not been confirmed with any certainty,” Bertranpetit added.
The new AI algorithm has the ability to “imitate the way in which the nervous system of mammals works, with different artificial neurons that specialize and learn to detect, in data, patterns that are important for performing a given task,” explained Òscar Lao, principal investigator at the CNAG-CRG.
“Whenever we run a simulation we are traveling along a possible path in the history of humankind. Of all simulations, deep learning allows us to observe what makes the ancestral puzzle fit together.”