SCIENTISTS have discovered the oldest known genetic material ever to be recovered from an early human.

They extracted mitochondrial DNA from the femur of a 400,000-year-old human ancestor in a cave known as the Pit of Bones in the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain.

The discovery will open up a new frontier in the study of our ancestors, according to experts.

The finding has raised more questions than answers about our increasingly complex family tree.

Professor Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum, told BBC News: “We need all the data we can get to build the whole story of human evolution. We can´t just build it from stone tools, we can´t just build it from the fossils. Having the DNA gives us a whole new way of looking at it.”


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