Scientists conducting a new genetic study have discovered that early humans bred with other species — like Neanderthals — at least twice.

There has been quite a bit of debate over whether our human ancestors interbred with neanderthals, but a new genetic study revealed at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, New Mexico suggest that such interbreeding did occur — at least twice. As explained by

"It means Neanderthals didn't completely disappear," says Jeffrey Long — a genetic anthropologist at the University of New Mexico, whose group conducted the analysis — who feels this might help explain what happened to the neanderthal, who disappeared from the fossil record approximately 30,000 years ago.... Using projected rates of genetic mutation and data from the fossil record, the researchers suggest that the interbreeding happened about 60,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean and, more recently, about 45,000 years ago in eastern Asia. Those two events happened after the first H. sapiens had migrated out of Africa, says Long. His group didn't find evidence of interbreeding in the genomes of the modern African people included in the study.

(Via New Scientist)