The headline blaring from the website of The Huffington Post (based on a story in Nature News) reads: "Ancient Humans Had Sex With Mystery Species, New DNA Study Shows."
The article says: "The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.
“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work."
The article cites David Reich, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston who was also at the London meeting, saying the new genomes indicate that Denisovans interbred with another extinct population of archaic humans, neither human nor Neanderthal, that lived in Asia more than 30,000 years ago.
The story continues: "The meeting was abuzz with conjecture about the identity of this potentially new population of humans. ‘We don’t have the faintest idea,’ says Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the work. He speculates that the population could be related to Homo heidelbergensis, a species that left Africa around half a million years ago and later gave rise to Neanderthals in Europe. ‘Perhaps it lived on in Asia as well,’ Stringer says."