AI finds ‘ghost’ ancestor of humans

Although we already have a lot of knowledge accumulated over the years, much of our history is still a mystery. Scientists and anthropologists began to use the latest technology, such as artificial intelligence, to obtain information about an ancestor lost in the timeline of human beings.

Read more: Why is the use of the term prehistory questioned?

A 2019 study used artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through data from human history and identified a previously unknown “ghost” ancestor. This species is believed to have encountered and possibly interbred with modern humans in the shift out of Earth. Africa many, many years ago.

Information about the “ghost” ancestor

As modern humans left Africa for other continents, such as Eurasia, they began to relate and have descendants with other, older species. Until very recently, scientists believed they were only related to Neanderthals and Denisovans, however the use of AI has shown that there was a third sexual partner in this matter.

For this study, the researchers used a statistical technique called Bayesian inference. The method consists of evaluating hypotheses by maximum likelihood, an immediate result of the Bayes formula. Thus, scientists found solid evidence about this “ghost” ancestor.

It is believed to be a very archaic species. There are two hypotheses about its emergence: the first is that it emerged from the relationship between Neanderthals and Denisovans while the second points out that it may have emerged at the very beginning of Denisovan evolution.

There is a possibility that this ancestor is somehow linked to the hybrid fossil of a teenager found in 2018, however there is still no concrete data to hit the hammer on the subject.

Use of AI in Anthropology

Using such advanced techniques for research on human ancestors is still new. Furthermore, there are not a large number of fossils discovered, that is, the raw material for research is scarce.

To have more concrete results, scientists need a high divergence of genomes; however, one thing is certain: every news item on the topic is an explanation of why we are what we are today.

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