Video: Look inside Siberia’s Denisova cave, where researchers discovered bones of our mysterious relatives

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Denisovans are named after Denisova Cave in Siberia. Until 2019, it was the only place where archaeologists found bones belonging to the group.

Denisovans, Neanderthals and modern humans descend from the same population of ancestors, who most likely lived in Africa between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago. Some of these early humans spread to Eurasia, where they split into Neanderthals in Europe and Denisovans in Asia. That means Denisovans are like, an Eastern cousin of Neanderthals.

Homo sapiens didn’t just live at the same time as Neanderthals and Denisovans — our DNA show that our ancestors interbred the with other humans. And, Denisovan DNA has evidence that they interbred with yet another, undiscovered group of ancient humans.

Related article:  Molecular clocks rewriting the story of human evolution

Researchers hope to head back to the cave soon to conduct more excavations. They’ve already unearthed stone tools and animal bones with cut marks which indicates they were butchered. One of the most intriguing mysteries is whether the Densiovans were still living on the Tibetan Plateau when Homo Sapiens arrived some 40,000 years ago.

And as always in science, these new finds lead only to more questions.

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