WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists examining the genomes of West Africans have detected signs that a mysterious extinct human species interbred with our own species tens of thousands of years ago in Africa, the latest evidence of humankind’s complicated genetic ancestry.

FILE PHOTO: Yinka Sotomi stands atop Oluma Rock, a spiritual site for the Yoruba tribe, overlooking the city of Abeokuta in southern Nigeria, April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly/File Photo

The study indicated that present-day West Africans trace a substantial proportion, some 2% to 19%, of their genetic ancestry to an extinct human species – what the researchers called a “ghost population.”

“We estimate interbreeding occurred approximately 43,000 years ago, with large intervals of uncertainty,” said University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) human genetics and computer science professor Sriram Sankararaman, who led t