Neanderthals and modern humans were interbreeding much earlier than was previously thought, scientists say.
Traces of human DNA found in a Neanderthal genome suggest that we started mixing with our now-extinct relatives 100,000 years ago.
Previously it had been thought that the two species first encountered each other when modern humans left Africa, about 60,000 years ago.
This has got the Beeb in a bit of a tizzy. How could they be interbreeding forty thousand years before we left Africa? Unless they did it by post of course.
Or it could be that the whole out of Africa theory is a load of tosh.
If they have found a fossil from 100,000 years ago what's the betting it was not the first 'contact'. That they may have been there another hundred thousand years before that.
If early humans were having sex with Neanderthals 100,000 years ago, then they must have been doing so outside of Africa because our close relatives were not found there.
And this means that they had left Africa before the larger dispersal that took place at least 40,000 years later.
This adds to the idea that early forays out of the continent took place. Other recent evidence includes early human fossils found in Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel, and recent research that suggests people were living in China at least 80,000 years ago.
So, the evidence is mounting up that humans were outside Africa even further back in history. Perhaps they've got it all wrong. Perhaps some humans left their northern or asiatic homelands and went to Africa to live and those who stayed behind in the cold needed a bit of company at night?