DNA from an ancient fossil reveals that Asians and Native Americans share a common ancestor, which lends further evidence to the theory that people from Asia were the first humans to set foot in the Americas. Researchers in China and Europe sequenced DNA extracted from a 40,000-year-old leg bone (pictured) found in the Tianyuan Cave site near Beijing.
At the time this individual was alive, modern humans co-existed with Neanderthals and Denisovans, two groups of early humans who diverged from Homo sapiens about 300-400 thousand years ago. Evolutionary biologists have already sequenced DNA from both Neanderthals and Denisovans, and discovered evidence that they were having children with modern humans (many modern European and Asian people have Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA). But until recently, we have known little about the genetic makeup of paleolithic humans who lived in Asia. What we do know is that as early as a million years ago, tool-using hominins called Homo erectus were living in Asia, and scientists have yearned to find out what happened to them.