The AI was trained to analyze the human genome and predict its demographics by simulating how our DNA could have evolved over time. The AI’s conclusion was that there is a species present in our lineage that remains unidentified.
A new study with the help of an AI has identified evidence of a “phantom population” of human ancestors.
According to reports, an analysis suggests that a previously unknown and extinct group of hominids crossed with Homo sapiens in Asia and Oceania somewhere along the path of human evolutionary history, leaving only fragmented traces in modern human DNA.
According to biologist Jaume Bertranpetit, of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain: “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.”
As modern humans forged their path towards Eurasia, they also forged relationships with ancient and extinct hominids of other species.
Until now it was thought that these (occasional) sexual partners included Neandertals and Denisovans.
But the new discovery indicates that there was a third species involved.
Traces of this ancient ‘unknown species’ was isolated in Eurasian DNA thanks to deep learning algorithms that analyzed a complex mass of ancient and modern human genetic code.
As explained by Science Alert, “Using a statistical technique called Bayesian inference, the researchers found evidence of what they call a “third introgression” – a ‘ghost’ archaic population that modern humans interbred with during the African exodus.”
“This population is either related to the Neanderthal-Denisova clade or diverged early from the Denisova lineage,” the researchers write in their paper, meaning that it’s possible this third population in humanity’s sexual history was possibly a mix themselves of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
The results of the study were published in Nature.