Who were the Denisovans? This Siberian cave could offer answers

3-4-2019 d
Researchers are continuing excavations in Denisova Cave in Siberia with the hope of finding more remains from Denisovans. Image credit: IAET SB RAS

Samantha Brown didn’t have high hopes when she opened the ziplock bag containing some 700 shards of bone. It would be a lot of work to analyse them and none was likely to be human… .

The fossils were from Denisova Cave — an archaeological site in southern Siberia where, in 2010, scientists had discovered a previously unknown group of ancient humans.

Her luck turned in June 2015, when a 2-centimetre sliver of long bone tested positive for hominin collagen. … Yet nothing would prepare her for a subsequent discovery by colleagues in Germany, who had sequenced the complete genome of DNA in the bone. [In 2018], a team that included Brown reported that the bone belonged to a woman who had lived around 100,000 years ago, and whose mother was a Neanderthal and father a Denisovan. …

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“It was such a one-in-a-million find in the first place — and then for it to be a first-generation offspring. It’s magic, it’s amazing,” Brown says. “It’s a real testament to what we can still find.”

Scientists are gaining confidence that they will soon uncover more remains of this ancient population from sites other than Denisova cave — if they haven’t already.

Read full, original post: Siberia’s ancient ghost clan starts to surrender its secrets

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