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Emerging research using ancient DNA techniques reveals that Neanderthals tended towards inbreeding and static social structures, as shown by genetic traces of close-relative mating in a Neanderthal woman and thirteen other individuals (Prüfer et al., 2017; Skov et al., 2022). In stark contrast, the genomes of Homo sapiens from 34,000 years ago indicate low levels of interrelatedness within groups, suggesting more extensive mating networks similar to modern hunter-gatherer societies (Sikora et al., 2017). Further analysis of ancient genomes reveals geographically widespread mating, mobility, and population blending across Africa 50,000 years ago, with emerging population structuring around 20,000 years ago (Lipson et al., 2022).

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