Newly Discovered Fourth Denisovan Fossil Is The Oldest Specimen Of This Ancient Human Cousin Found So Far

fourth Denisovan fossil

Denisovans – a species of extinct cousins of Neanderthals and modern humans – has gained another specimen: a small, worn tooth. A team of paleoanthropologists with members from Russia, Germany, Canada and Italy studying the tooth found in Denisova cave back in 1984 has found that it belonged to a young Denisovan female child. In their paper published on the open access website Science Advances, the team also notes that DNA evidence suggests the child lived around 20,000 years before other Denisovans living within the same cave who also left behind fossils that are found and known.

Considering the very fact that we’ve got comparatively very little information from this archaic hominins, therefore having any extra individuals are some things very exciting. The newly discovered fossil brings to merely four the number of Denisovan fossils that are found and identified—one finger and three teeth. Due to the location of Denisova cave, that is found in Siberia, researchers believe the hominins lived in eastern parts of Eurasia, whereas Neanderthal are believed to have lived in western Eurasia.

The Denisovans were solely properly known once a team of researchers led by Svante Paabo studying a finger bone found in Denisova cave managed to extract a small bit of DNA. Analysis of the sample showed that it had been not Neanderthal as had been suspected however was instead from a special early hominn. They called it Denisova after the cave in that it had been found. An even closer look into the DNA samples conducted afterward showed that the Denisovans split faraway from Neanderthals throughout the time-frame 470,000 to 190,00 years ago. Subsequent excavation within the cave led to the discovery of two teeth that were also identified as Denisovan. The new identified fourth fossil is believed to have come from a child roughly ten to twelve years old.

After sequencing the DNA she compared genetic data from the sample with genetic information already collected from Denisovans, Neanderthals and modern humans. They found that it had been most similar to that extracted from the three younger Denisovan fossils mitochondrial genomes. The study also suggests Denisovan population was little and had a low genetic diversity throughout its long history than modern humans, however additional genetic diversity than seen in Neanderthal nuclear DNA.

Source: New Scientist, PHYS.ORG,


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