It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Neanderthal man is alive and well - and living on every high street in Britain, scientists say.
An astonishing study has discovered that the ancestors of white Europeans and Asians bred with Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago - and their genes have been passed down the millennia ever since.
Up to four per cent of the DNA of people living outside Africa comes from the short, stocky cavemen.
The discovery emerged from the first attempt to map the complete genetic code, or genome, of Neanderthals - an offshoot of the human family tree that died out 30,000 years ago.
The experiment - which used prehistoric DNA from Neanderthals who died 40,000 years ago - reveals that Neanderthals and modern people were not so different after all and raises questions about what it means to be a human being.
Dr Svante Paabo, director of evolutionary genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led the international project, said: 'Those of us who live outside Africa carry a little Neanderthal DNA in us.'
Past studies have cast doubt on the chances of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals interbreeding.
But the new research shows modern Asians and Europeans have between one and four per cent of Neanderthal DNA.
Prof Paabo, said: 'Since we see this pattern in all people outside Africa, not just the region where Neanderthals existed, we speculate that this happened in some population of modern humans that then became the ancestors of all present-day non-Africans.
'The most plausible region is in the Middle East, where the first modern humans appeared before 100,000 years ago and where there were Neanderthals until at least 60,000 years ago.
'Modern humans that came out of Africa to colonise the rest of the world had to pass through that region.'
No one knows how common interbreeding was.
Neanderthal genes could have been passed on to our ancestors if one group of 1,000 modern people bred with just 20 to 40 Neanderthal women.
Neanderthal man was living in Britain at the start of the last ice age - 40,000 years earlier than previously thought, archaeologists said today.
Tests on sediment burying two ancient flint hand tools used to cut meat showed they date from around 100,000 years ago - proving Neanderthals were living in Britain at this time.
Until now, scientists have believed that the country was uninhabited during this period.
The tools were discovered at the junction of the M25/A2 road junction at Dartford, Kent.
'I couldn't believe my eyes when I received the test results,' said Francis Wenban-Smith from the University of Southampton.
'We know that Neanderthals inhabited Northern France at this time, but this new evidence suggests that as soon as sea levels dropped, and a 'land bridge' appeared across the English Channel, they made the journey by foot to Kent.'
Early pre-Neanderthals inhabited Britain before the last ice age, but were forced south by the severe cold about 200,000 years ago.
When the climate warmed up again between 130,000 and 110,000 years ago, they could not get back because, similar to today, the Channel sea-level was raised, blocking their path.
The new discovery, commissioned by Oxford Archaeology, showed they returned to Britain much earlier than 60,000 years ago, as previous evidence suggested.
Oxford Archaeology Project Manager David Score said: 'The fieldwork uncovered a significant amount of activity at the Dartford site in the Bronze Age and Roman periods, but it is deeper trenches excavated through much older sediments which have yielded the most interesting results - shedding light on a long period when there was assumed to have been an absence of early man from Britain.'
One theory is that Neanderthals were attracted back to Kent by the flint-rich chalk downs which were visible from France.
These supported herds of mammoth, rhino, horse and deer - an important source of food in sub-arctic conditions back then.
'These are people who had no real shelter - no houses, not even caves - so we can only speculate that by the time they returned, they had developed physiologically to cope with the cold, as well as developing behavioural strategies such as planning winter stores and making good use of fire,' said Dr Wenban-Smith.
Dr Wenban-Smith explained more evidence was needed to date their presence more accurately, to show how many were living in Kent at this time, how far they roamed into Britain and how long they stayed for.
The English Channel was also a critical area for further research, with the buried landscape between Boulogne and Newhaven possibly containing the crucial evidence, he said.
Other results from the project include the discovery of a woolly rhino tooth in the floodplain gravels of the River Darent, dated at around 40,000 years old.