Homo heidelbergensis? Primitive Neandertal? Denisovan? The taxonomic identity and phylogeny of the Sima de los Huesos hominins has been a highly debated issue in paleoanthropology since they were discovered in a Spanish cave in the 1990's.
Last week, Matthias Meyer (Max Plank Institute) announced at a paleoanthropology meeting in London that he and his team were able to sequence the nuclear DNA of the Spanish fossils - the oldest hominin nuclear DNA ever analyzed! Results revealed that the Sima hominins' closest relatives were... Neandertals! Thus the modern human lineage would have diverged from the Neandertals/Denisovans lineage earlier than previously estimated.