Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?

It appears that modern humans mated with individuals from at least two groups of ancient humans, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.


(Denisova cave, also used by Neanderthals and us)

A detailed comparison of the Denisovan, Neanderthal, and human genomes has revealed evidence for a complex web of interbreeding among the lineages. Through such interbreeding, 17% of the Denisova genome represents DNA from the local Neanderthal population, while evidence was also found of a contribution to the nuclear genome from an ancient hominin lineage yet to be identified, perhaps the source of the anomalously ancient mtDNA.

Analysis of genomes of modern humans show that they mated with at least two groups of ancient humans: Neanderthals (more similar to those found in the Caucasus than those from the Altai region) and Denisovans.

Larry Niven was somewhat ahead of the game in his 1996 novel The Ringworld Throne. He described a practice called rishathra, which was sex outside of ones own species:

Traders didn't mate. They shared rishathra with the species they met, but mating was something else. You didn't get a business partner pregnant, and you didn't engage in sexual dominance games, and you didn't fall in love.

But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.


(The Ringworld Throne, by Larry Niven)

One can find earlier examples, if not so elaborately named. For example, in Roger Zelazny's Hugo Award-winning novel This Immortal, Earth pleasure girls had sex with Vegans (aliens from Vega, not vegetarians!) who breathed out of slits in their chests.

Earth femmes have always held an odd attraction for Vegans. A Veggy once told me that they make him feel rather like a zoophilist. Which is interesting, because a pleasure girl at the Cote d'Or Resort once told me, with a giggle, that Vegans made her feel rather like une zoophiliste. I guess those jets of air must tickle or something and arouse both beasts.

Via Living Anthropologically. Also thanks to M. Lussier for the tweet.

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