Homo sapiens did not simply spring from a single ancestor.

It is beginning to look like H. sapiens’ ancestor (call it Ancestor X) gave rise to several different offspring. In the first instance, these included the big names such as the Neanderthals and, possibly, the Denisovans. But they also included several offshoots in parts of Africa. These offshoots then came together again in greater or lesser quantities and, lo and behold, H. sapiens: a sort of meta-person. Then of course H. sapiens journeyed north again and absorbed a tiny pinch of Neanderthal or a tiny pinch of Denisovan. Intriguingly, Ancestor X might have been a ‘meta’ as well. I wonder when consciousness entered the picture. Maybe some had it and others did not. Maybe it goes back a lot further than Ancestor X. Maybe it was unique to H. sapiens. We will probably never know but it is fun to imagine it.

Link to article: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2335613-who-is-ancestor-x-the-biggest-mystery-in-human-evolution/

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