A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution has discovered gene flow from a previously-unknown extinct gorilla population into eastern gorillas. This result shows that our close relatives experienced an evolutionary history similar to modern humans, who have received gene flow from extinct hominins like Neandertals. In this study, advanced statistical methods including those that use neural networks were used to computationally excavate the signature of a now-extinct gorilla population that contributed to both mountain gorillas and the closely related eastern lowland gorilla subspecies, who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Up to 3% of the genome of present-day eastern gorillas carries remnants from this ghost population, which separated from the common ancestor of all gorillas more than 3 million years ago. The study was led by HEAS researcher Martin Kuhlwilm and his collaborators Harvinder Pawar and Prof. Tomas Marques-Bonet at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (UPF-CSIC, Barcelona), with contributions from HEAS members Aigerim Rymbekova, Xin Huang and Sojung Han, as well as an international team.
The publication can be found here:
Ghost admixture in eastern gorillas. – HEAS