The traditional idea that modern humans left Africa and spread throughout the world about 50,000 years ago, replacing all other species of human, is changing. Instead, genetic analysis shows that modern humans encountered and bred with at least two different types of ancient humans: the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia, and a mysterious, newly-discovered group known as Denisovans, who lived in Asia.
Both these other species disappeared around the same time--perhaps due to interbreeding with us modern humans? However, even though they're extinct, their DNA lives on in us. In the January 31st edition of the New York Times, Alanna Mitchell quotes paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer as saying, "In a sense, we are a hybrid species."
Mitchell writes, "Comparing genomes, scientists concluded that today's humans outside Africa carry an average of 2.5% Neanderthal DNA, and that people from parts of Oceania also carry about 5% Denisovan DNA. A (recent) study found that Southeast Asians carry about 1% Denisovan DNA in addition to their Neanderthal genes. It is unclear whether Denisovans and Neanderthals also interbred."
In the US today, we're used to considering ourselves hybrids, because we come in all sizes and colors. Whitley Strieber created a special type of these extraordinary beings in fiction. This novel is out of print, so you won't find it in your bookstore, but you can still get it (along with an autographed bookplate designed by Whitley) from the Whitley Strieber Collection.
And we hope you'll come meet your FELLOW Hybrids at the wonderful Dreamland Festival, to be held this year in May!