A study of prehistoric humans remains found in Russia has revealed why humans did not have sex with their relatives. According to a new study, humans who lived around 34,000 years ago avoided inbreeding and developed mating networks. As per the new study led by Cambridge University and the University of Copenhagen, prehistoric humans developed social networks and sought partners beyond their families. The study speculates that this could explain why anatomically-modern humans proved more successful than species such as Neanderthals which did not avoid inbreeding.

 
Prehistoric evidence of human cannibalism discovered

Prehistoric evidence of human cannibalism discovered

Genetic remains of four anatomically-modern humans from Sunghir, an Upper Paleolithic site in Russia were examined by researchers. The people who were not closely related through genes were found buried together, which is unusual during that period. It is also the case of two children who were buried head-to-head in the same grave. Martin Sikora, Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark said that small family bands were likely interconnected with larger networks in order to maintain diversity. The study suggests that people purposely chose partners and had sex outside their family to be connected to a wider network of groups and to avoid becoming inbred. It clearly denotes that they did not encourage incest.

Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen said that the study explains that people in the Upper Palaeolithic understood the importance of avoiding inbreeding. The human fossils found at Sunghir was a rare and highly valuable source of information because it was uncommon for people from different genes who lived at the same time to be buried together. Researchers speculate that a systematic approach to preventing inbreeding may have helped modern humans to thrive, compared with other hominins.