Hybridization in human evolution: Insights from other organisms

Rebecca R. Ackermann, Michael L. Arnold, Marcella D. Baiz, James A. Cahill, Liliana Cortés-Ortiz, Ben J. Evans, B. Rosemary Grant, Peter R. Grant, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, Robyn A. Humphreys, Clifford J. Jolly, Joanna Malukiewicz, Christopher J. Percival, Terrence B. Ritzman, Christian Roos, Charles C. Roseman, Lauren Schroeder, Fred H. Smith, Kerryn A. Warren, Robert K. WayneDietmar Zinner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


During the late Pleistocene, isolated lineages of hominins exchanged genes thus influencing genomic variation in humans in both the past and present. However, the dynamics of this genetic exchange and associated phenotypic consequences through time remain poorly understood. Gene exchange across divergent lineages can result in myriad outcomes arising from these dynamics and the environmental conditions under which it occurs. Here we draw from our collective research across various organisms, illustrating some of the ways in which gene exchange can structure genomic/phenotypic diversity within/among species. We present a range of examples relevant to questions about the evolution of hominins. These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative of the diverse evolutionary causes/consequences of hybridization, highlighting potential drivers of human evolution in the context of hybridization including: influences on adaptive evolution, climate change, developmental systems, sex-differences in behavior, Haldane's rule and the large X-effect, and transgressive phenotypic variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-209
Number of pages21
JournalEvolutionary Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Neanderthals
  • gene flow
  • introgression
  • model organisms
  • modern human origins


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