In 2010, the first genome-wide data from ancient humans was published. Since that time, the number of ancient genomes available has increased by three orders of magnitude, and the amount of data continues to rise at an extraordinary rate. These new data make it possible, for the first time, to understand how ancient human populations are related to each other. Studies have demonstrated surprise after surprise, including the existence of a previously unknown human population called the Denisovans and interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans.
In this 2017 Midsummer Nights' Science talk, David Reich described his laboratory’s work in the area of ancient DNA and the prospects for further discoveries about the past from this burgeoning field.