Summary In the June 5th 2012 issue of Current Biology, Agoni et al. reported finding 14 endogenous retrovirus (ERV) loci in the genome sequences of Neanderthal and/or Denisovan fossils (both ∼40,000 years old) that are not found in the human reference genome sequence. The authors  concluded that these retroviruses were infecting the germline of these archaic hominins at or subsequent to their divergence from modern humans (∼400,000 years ago). However, in our search for unfixed ERVs in the modern human population, we have found most of these loci. We explain this apparent contradiction using population genetic theory and suggest that it illustrates an important phenomenon for the study of transposable elements such as ERVs.