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Christopher Johnson 2019-05-06
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In 2010, archaeologists found evidence of a previously unknown hominin, the Denisovans, in a Siberian cave.

This Denisovan mandible was discovered nearly 40 years ago by a monk who was wandering through Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China.

We suspected this day would come, and it’s finally happened—the first fossil evidence of this species outside of Denisova cave, which is located in the Siberian Altai Mountains.

Today, bits of Denisovan DNA linger on in present day Asian, Australian, and Melanesian populations.

Indeed, a remarkable and puzzling aspect of Denisovan DNA is the presence of an allele known as EPAS1.

This genetic mutation confers resistance to hypoxia, otherwise known as altitude sickness.

collect
0
Alvaro Okajima 2019-05-06
img

In 2010, archaeologists found evidence of a previously unknown hominin, the Denisovans, in a Siberian cave.

This Denisovan mandible was discovered nearly 40 years ago by a monk who was wandering through Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China.

We suspected this day would come, and it’s finally happened—the first fossil evidence of this species outside of Denisova cave, which is located in the Siberian Altai Mountains.

Today, bits of Denisovan DNA linger on in present day Asian, Australian, and Melanesian populations.

Indeed, a remarkable and puzzling aspect of Denisovan DNA is the presence of an allele known as EPAS1.

This genetic mutation confers resistance to hypoxia, otherwise known as altitude sickness.

collect
0
John Salmi 2018-08-23
img

The closest known extinct relatives of modern humans were the thick-browed Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans.

The finding confirms interbreeding that had been only hinted at in earlier genetic studies.

[In Images: The First Bone from a Neanderthal-Denisovan Hybrid]

Archaeological excavations have revealed that Neanderthals and Denisovans coexisted in Eurasia, with Neanderthal bones ranging from 200,000 to 40,000 years old unearthed mostly in western Eurasia and Denisovans so far only known from fossils ranging from 200,000 to 30,000years old found in eastern Eurasia.

Prior work unearthed Neanderthal remains in Denisova Cave, raising questions on how closely they interacted.

"A Neanderthal and a Denisovan were genetically more distant from each other than any two people living today are," study co-author Viviane Slon, a paleogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said in an email to Live Science.

collect
0
Eric Erikson 2020-08-10
img
This week a research paper published in PLOS Genetics revealed a newly developed algorithm for analyzing genomes. Researchers used their new system on the genomes of two Neanderthals, two humans of African descent, and a Denisovan. Approximately 1% of the genome of the Denisovan came from an “unsequenced, but highly diverged, archaic hominin ancestor.” This previously unknown “super-archaic hominin” crossed … Continue reading
collect
0
Efrain Johnson 2019-05-07
img

The 160,000-year-old jawbone was uncovered by a Buddhist monk in a Chinese cave nearly 40 years ago—an aspect of this story that’s as intriguing as it is frustrating.

To quickly recap this breaking news, a partial jaw bone found in Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in Xiahe, China, has been identified as belonging to the mysterious Denisovan hominins, a sister species to the Neanderthals that went extinct about 50,000 years ago.

The presence of the fossil in the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau finally explains why Denisovans had a genetic variant associated with a resistance to altitude sickness.

It also shows that Denisovans had retained some primitive physical features, such as robust molars, and that they had travelled across Asia.

That said, the Denisovan mandible was not discovered by the authors of the new paper, a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EA) and Lanzhou University.

Rather, the fossil was found in 1980 by an anonymous Buddhist monk who stumbled upon the relic after venturing into the cave to pray and meditate, according to Jean-Jacques Hublin, an MPI-EA archaeologist and the lead author of the new study.

collect
0
Michael Vaughn 2019-05-07
img

The 160,000-year-old jawbone was uncovered by a Buddhist monk in a Chinese cave nearly 40 years ago—an aspect of this story that’s as intriguing as it is frustrating.

To quickly recap this breaking news, a partial jaw bone found in Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in Xiahe, China, has been identified as belonging to the mysterious Denisovan hominins, a sister species to the Neanderthals that went extinct about 50,000 years ago.

The presence of the fossil in the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau finally explains why Denisovans had a genetic variant associated with a resistance to altitude sickness.

It also shows that Denisovans had retained some primitive physical features, such as robust molars, and that they had travelled across Asia.

That said, the Denisovan mandible was not discovered by the authors of the new paper, a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EA) and Lanzhou University.

Rather, the fossil was found in 1980 by an anonymous Buddhist monk who stumbled upon the relic after venturing into the cave to pray and meditate, according to Jean-Jacques Hublin, an MPI-EA archaeologist and the lead author of the new study.

collect
0
Toby Taft 2017-12-11
img

The traditional origin story for modern humans says that early groups migrated out of Africa 60,000 years ago.

Most non-Africans can trace their origin to those migrations, but new evidence suggests that humans actually migrated out of Africa as far back as 120,000 years ago.

Tens of thousands of years ago, the first Homo sapiens — modern humans — started to cross mountains, deserts, and even oceans to leave Africa, where our species first evolved, and populate Asia and Australia.

Researchers still agree that most present day non-Africans trace the majority of their lineage to the large migration that occurred then.

These early migrants interbred with other hominin species that existed at the time, including Neanderthals and Denisovans.

This new information has challenged the previous understanding of human migration to the point that it needs to be revised, according to a new review of research published in the journal Science.

collect
0
James Farr 2019-01-20
img

Well, computers programmed by AI-wielding bio-boffins

The human genome is hiding secrets that point to a mystery ancestor alongside our hominid cousins the Neanderthals and Denisovans, according to AI software.

Homo sapiens, the only surviving species in the homo genus, once bred with its extinct relatives homo neanderthalensis and denisova hominins hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The evidence is in our genes todya, and from fossil records unearthed in caves across the world.

It is estimated that people of European and Asian descent have about two per cent Neanderthal DNA, while people from the Pacific Islanders are more likely to have inherited some Denisovan DNA.

But there are gaps in our knowledge, for example, some fragments of our genetic blueprint don’t match up to any known homonid species, and these have left scientists scratching their heads.

collect
0
William Ly 2019-09-09
img

New research has revealed a Denisovan finger bone that’s unexpectedly human-like in shape – an odd observation, given the close relation of Denisovans to Neanderthals, whose fingers differed quite a bit from ours.

To date, only five skeletal fossils are known from Denisovans: three molars, a mandible, and the tip of a pinky finger.

That’s not much to go by, but the 50,000-year-old finger bone – discovered 11 years ago in Siberia’s Denisova Cave – yielded critically important genetic information.

The research, led by E. Andrew Bennett from Paris Diderot University, revealed a finger that’s closer in shape to those of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) than to those of Neanderthals – a surprise, given how closely related Denisovans are to Neanderthals.

Fascinatingly, this finding doesn’t mean modern humans looked like Denisovans.

Genetic evidence suggests modern humans interbred with Denisovans (and also Neanderthals), and that Neanderthals interbred with Denisovans.

collect
0
Eric Vela 2018-03-15
img

For a brief period in our species’ history, we shared our world with other sapient humans, closely related to us but distinct.

We don’t know much about how our ancestors interacted with these other now-extinct hominins, but we know that at least some of those interactions were pretty intimate, because many modern humans now carry traces of DNA from Neanderthals and another ancient hominin group called Denisovans.

Most modern people of European and Asian descent carry between one- and three-percent Neanderthal DNA, and most people of Asian and Oceanian descent carry about one- to five-percent Denisovan DNA.

Because Neanderthals and Denisovans arose outside Africa, the ancestors of modern African people would never have encountered them, although researchers have suggested that a so-far unidentified hominin species in Africa mingled with our ancestors there, so all of us may carry traces of that distant relative as well.

The genetic legacy that many of us now carry is probably the mark of years of sustained contact between two groups.

Susan Browning, a research professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and her colleagues made the discovery while testing a new method of scanning human DNA for exactly this kind of mixing with now-extinct hominin species like Neanderthals and Denisovans.

collect
0
Lawrence Bowman 2018-03-22
img

Mezmaiskaya Cave offered shelter to Neanderthals for tens of thousands of years.

The cave, located near Russia's border with Georgia, preserved Neanderthal remains so well that researchers have now been able to extract genetic information from two different individuals who lived approximately 20,000 years apart.

The new genomes are all from 39,000 to 47,000 years ago—late in the history of the population.

The researchers, led by Mateja Hajdinjak at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, extracted tiny amounts of bone or tooth powder—sometimes as little as 9mg—and used a chemical process to remove modern genetic contamination.

They also checked for the telltale signs of degradation found in ancient DNA.

They compared the data from the new sequences to previously published data from other ancient individuals, including a range of Neanderthals and a Denisovan, as well as samples from our own species.

collect
0
Issac Pierce 2017-04-27
img

At altitudes of 15,000 feet, Tibetans live in environments that would incapacitate most humans.

New research has uncovered several genetic mutations that appear to be responsible for these high-altitude superpowers — including a trait inherited from an extinct human species.

Known as the “roof of the world,” this plateau features an average elevation exceeding 14,800 feet, an expansive arid steppe, mountain ranges, and large brackish lakes.

Humans have lived in the Tibetan Plateau for thousands of years, and as the new PLOS Genetics study shows, natural selection has been busy at work on these populations, endowing them with a genetic profile specific to this environment.

Huff’s team uncovered gene variants that allow Tibetan individuals to withstand low levels of oxygen and limited access to food.

Incredibly, one of these genes, called EPAS1, is inherited from the Denisovans, a mysterious subspecies of human that disappeared some 40,000 years ago.

collect
0
Filiberto Lahey 2021-06-26
img
Even the sediment in the floor of Denisova Cave has a story to tell.
collect
0
Rodney Edson 2020-10-29
img
New sequences also show Denisovans were living at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
collect
0
Thomas Gibson 2017-07-21
img

A simple salivary protein has revealed a so-called ‘ghost’ species of ancient humans, a new study reveals, hinting at the existence of an archaic species that swapped genetic material with human ancestors.

It is well known that ancient hominin species contributed to the rise of modern humans, not the least of which is the Neanderthals and lesser known Denisovans.

Such rendezvous took place in Europe and Asia, but it seems similar encounters may have happened in ancient Africa, too.

The discovery was made thanks to a protein from saliva called MUC7 — it is the reason spit has its consistency and is a possible way the body gets rid of harmful bacteria.

Researchers were studying this protein, particularly looking for its origins, and stumbled upon an interesting find: that some genomes from Sub-Saharan Africa possessed this gene, but a variety that is quite different from the gene found in other modern human genomes.

According to the study, the MUC7 genes found in the Sub-Saharan sample were most closely related to Denisovan and Neanderthal genes versus than the other modern samples.

collect
0
Michael Fewell 2017-04-28
img

Researchers have detailed a method by which it is possible to detect the presence of long-gone hominin groups in locations where actual skeletal remains aren’t present.

The method — which involves looking for traces of DNA in sediment layers — has been successfully used to detect the presence of Neanderthal DNA in more than half a dozen sediment layers, as well as an instance of Denisovan DNA detection in what is described as a Middle Pleistocene layer.

Knowing which hominin groups occupied any given archaeological site is important in helping shape current knowledge about the site itself, migration, and more.

However, the absence of skeletal remains has largely meant that this knowledge was beyond most researchers who, at best, could detect early human presence in the form of tools, sawed bones, and similar.

According to a new study published in Science Mag, that limitation is changing.

By looking for trace DNA in sediment layers, researchers are able to determine which ancient hominin once occupied a site, including the presence of long-gone Denisova hominin and Neanderthals.

collect
0
Christopher Johnson 2019-05-06
img

In 2010, archaeologists found evidence of a previously unknown hominin, the Denisovans, in a Siberian cave.

This Denisovan mandible was discovered nearly 40 years ago by a monk who was wandering through Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China.

We suspected this day would come, and it’s finally happened—the first fossil evidence of this species outside of Denisova cave, which is located in the Siberian Altai Mountains.

Today, bits of Denisovan DNA linger on in present day Asian, Australian, and Melanesian populations.

Indeed, a remarkable and puzzling aspect of Denisovan DNA is the presence of an allele known as EPAS1.

This genetic mutation confers resistance to hypoxia, otherwise known as altitude sickness.

John Salmi 2018-08-23
img

The closest known extinct relatives of modern humans were the thick-browed Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans.

The finding confirms interbreeding that had been only hinted at in earlier genetic studies.

[In Images: The First Bone from a Neanderthal-Denisovan Hybrid]

Archaeological excavations have revealed that Neanderthals and Denisovans coexisted in Eurasia, with Neanderthal bones ranging from 200,000 to 40,000 years old unearthed mostly in western Eurasia and Denisovans so far only known from fossils ranging from 200,000 to 30,000years old found in eastern Eurasia.

Prior work unearthed Neanderthal remains in Denisova Cave, raising questions on how closely they interacted.

"A Neanderthal and a Denisovan were genetically more distant from each other than any two people living today are," study co-author Viviane Slon, a paleogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said in an email to Live Science.

Efrain Johnson 2019-05-07
img

The 160,000-year-old jawbone was uncovered by a Buddhist monk in a Chinese cave nearly 40 years ago—an aspect of this story that’s as intriguing as it is frustrating.

To quickly recap this breaking news, a partial jaw bone found in Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in Xiahe, China, has been identified as belonging to the mysterious Denisovan hominins, a sister species to the Neanderthals that went extinct about 50,000 years ago.

The presence of the fossil in the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau finally explains why Denisovans had a genetic variant associated with a resistance to altitude sickness.

It also shows that Denisovans had retained some primitive physical features, such as robust molars, and that they had travelled across Asia.

That said, the Denisovan mandible was not discovered by the authors of the new paper, a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EA) and Lanzhou University.

Rather, the fossil was found in 1980 by an anonymous Buddhist monk who stumbled upon the relic after venturing into the cave to pray and meditate, according to Jean-Jacques Hublin, an MPI-EA archaeologist and the lead author of the new study.

Toby Taft 2017-12-11
img

The traditional origin story for modern humans says that early groups migrated out of Africa 60,000 years ago.

Most non-Africans can trace their origin to those migrations, but new evidence suggests that humans actually migrated out of Africa as far back as 120,000 years ago.

Tens of thousands of years ago, the first Homo sapiens — modern humans — started to cross mountains, deserts, and even oceans to leave Africa, where our species first evolved, and populate Asia and Australia.

Researchers still agree that most present day non-Africans trace the majority of their lineage to the large migration that occurred then.

These early migrants interbred with other hominin species that existed at the time, including Neanderthals and Denisovans.

This new information has challenged the previous understanding of human migration to the point that it needs to be revised, according to a new review of research published in the journal Science.

William Ly 2019-09-09
img

New research has revealed a Denisovan finger bone that’s unexpectedly human-like in shape – an odd observation, given the close relation of Denisovans to Neanderthals, whose fingers differed quite a bit from ours.

To date, only five skeletal fossils are known from Denisovans: three molars, a mandible, and the tip of a pinky finger.

That’s not much to go by, but the 50,000-year-old finger bone – discovered 11 years ago in Siberia’s Denisova Cave – yielded critically important genetic information.

The research, led by E. Andrew Bennett from Paris Diderot University, revealed a finger that’s closer in shape to those of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) than to those of Neanderthals – a surprise, given how closely related Denisovans are to Neanderthals.

Fascinatingly, this finding doesn’t mean modern humans looked like Denisovans.

Genetic evidence suggests modern humans interbred with Denisovans (and also Neanderthals), and that Neanderthals interbred with Denisovans.

Lawrence Bowman 2018-03-22
img

Mezmaiskaya Cave offered shelter to Neanderthals for tens of thousands of years.

The cave, located near Russia's border with Georgia, preserved Neanderthal remains so well that researchers have now been able to extract genetic information from two different individuals who lived approximately 20,000 years apart.

The new genomes are all from 39,000 to 47,000 years ago—late in the history of the population.

The researchers, led by Mateja Hajdinjak at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, extracted tiny amounts of bone or tooth powder—sometimes as little as 9mg—and used a chemical process to remove modern genetic contamination.

They also checked for the telltale signs of degradation found in ancient DNA.

They compared the data from the new sequences to previously published data from other ancient individuals, including a range of Neanderthals and a Denisovan, as well as samples from our own species.

Filiberto Lahey 2021-06-26
img
Even the sediment in the floor of Denisova Cave has a story to tell.
Thomas Gibson 2017-07-21
img

A simple salivary protein has revealed a so-called ‘ghost’ species of ancient humans, a new study reveals, hinting at the existence of an archaic species that swapped genetic material with human ancestors.

It is well known that ancient hominin species contributed to the rise of modern humans, not the least of which is the Neanderthals and lesser known Denisovans.

Such rendezvous took place in Europe and Asia, but it seems similar encounters may have happened in ancient Africa, too.

The discovery was made thanks to a protein from saliva called MUC7 — it is the reason spit has its consistency and is a possible way the body gets rid of harmful bacteria.

Researchers were studying this protein, particularly looking for its origins, and stumbled upon an interesting find: that some genomes from Sub-Saharan Africa possessed this gene, but a variety that is quite different from the gene found in other modern human genomes.

According to the study, the MUC7 genes found in the Sub-Saharan sample were most closely related to Denisovan and Neanderthal genes versus than the other modern samples.

Alvaro Okajima 2019-05-06
img

In 2010, archaeologists found evidence of a previously unknown hominin, the Denisovans, in a Siberian cave.

This Denisovan mandible was discovered nearly 40 years ago by a monk who was wandering through Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China.

We suspected this day would come, and it’s finally happened—the first fossil evidence of this species outside of Denisova cave, which is located in the Siberian Altai Mountains.

Today, bits of Denisovan DNA linger on in present day Asian, Australian, and Melanesian populations.

Indeed, a remarkable and puzzling aspect of Denisovan DNA is the presence of an allele known as EPAS1.

This genetic mutation confers resistance to hypoxia, otherwise known as altitude sickness.

Eric Erikson 2020-08-10
img
This week a research paper published in PLOS Genetics revealed a newly developed algorithm for analyzing genomes. Researchers used their new system on the genomes of two Neanderthals, two humans of African descent, and a Denisovan. Approximately 1% of the genome of the Denisovan came from an “unsequenced, but highly diverged, archaic hominin ancestor.” This previously unknown “super-archaic hominin” crossed … Continue reading
Michael Vaughn 2019-05-07
img

The 160,000-year-old jawbone was uncovered by a Buddhist monk in a Chinese cave nearly 40 years ago—an aspect of this story that’s as intriguing as it is frustrating.

To quickly recap this breaking news, a partial jaw bone found in Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in Xiahe, China, has been identified as belonging to the mysterious Denisovan hominins, a sister species to the Neanderthals that went extinct about 50,000 years ago.

The presence of the fossil in the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau finally explains why Denisovans had a genetic variant associated with a resistance to altitude sickness.

It also shows that Denisovans had retained some primitive physical features, such as robust molars, and that they had travelled across Asia.

That said, the Denisovan mandible was not discovered by the authors of the new paper, a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EA) and Lanzhou University.

Rather, the fossil was found in 1980 by an anonymous Buddhist monk who stumbled upon the relic after venturing into the cave to pray and meditate, according to Jean-Jacques Hublin, an MPI-EA archaeologist and the lead author of the new study.

James Farr 2019-01-20
img

Well, computers programmed by AI-wielding bio-boffins

The human genome is hiding secrets that point to a mystery ancestor alongside our hominid cousins the Neanderthals and Denisovans, according to AI software.

Homo sapiens, the only surviving species in the homo genus, once bred with its extinct relatives homo neanderthalensis and denisova hominins hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The evidence is in our genes todya, and from fossil records unearthed in caves across the world.

It is estimated that people of European and Asian descent have about two per cent Neanderthal DNA, while people from the Pacific Islanders are more likely to have inherited some Denisovan DNA.

But there are gaps in our knowledge, for example, some fragments of our genetic blueprint don’t match up to any known homonid species, and these have left scientists scratching their heads.

Eric Vela 2018-03-15
img

For a brief period in our species’ history, we shared our world with other sapient humans, closely related to us but distinct.

We don’t know much about how our ancestors interacted with these other now-extinct hominins, but we know that at least some of those interactions were pretty intimate, because many modern humans now carry traces of DNA from Neanderthals and another ancient hominin group called Denisovans.

Most modern people of European and Asian descent carry between one- and three-percent Neanderthal DNA, and most people of Asian and Oceanian descent carry about one- to five-percent Denisovan DNA.

Because Neanderthals and Denisovans arose outside Africa, the ancestors of modern African people would never have encountered them, although researchers have suggested that a so-far unidentified hominin species in Africa mingled with our ancestors there, so all of us may carry traces of that distant relative as well.

The genetic legacy that many of us now carry is probably the mark of years of sustained contact between two groups.

Susan Browning, a research professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and her colleagues made the discovery while testing a new method of scanning human DNA for exactly this kind of mixing with now-extinct hominin species like Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Issac Pierce 2017-04-27
img

At altitudes of 15,000 feet, Tibetans live in environments that would incapacitate most humans.

New research has uncovered several genetic mutations that appear to be responsible for these high-altitude superpowers — including a trait inherited from an extinct human species.

Known as the “roof of the world,” this plateau features an average elevation exceeding 14,800 feet, an expansive arid steppe, mountain ranges, and large brackish lakes.

Humans have lived in the Tibetan Plateau for thousands of years, and as the new PLOS Genetics study shows, natural selection has been busy at work on these populations, endowing them with a genetic profile specific to this environment.

Huff’s team uncovered gene variants that allow Tibetan individuals to withstand low levels of oxygen and limited access to food.

Incredibly, one of these genes, called EPAS1, is inherited from the Denisovans, a mysterious subspecies of human that disappeared some 40,000 years ago.

Rodney Edson 2020-10-29
img
New sequences also show Denisovans were living at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
Michael Fewell 2017-04-28
img

Researchers have detailed a method by which it is possible to detect the presence of long-gone hominin groups in locations where actual skeletal remains aren’t present.

The method — which involves looking for traces of DNA in sediment layers — has been successfully used to detect the presence of Neanderthal DNA in more than half a dozen sediment layers, as well as an instance of Denisovan DNA detection in what is described as a Middle Pleistocene layer.

Knowing which hominin groups occupied any given archaeological site is important in helping shape current knowledge about the site itself, migration, and more.

However, the absence of skeletal remains has largely meant that this knowledge was beyond most researchers who, at best, could detect early human presence in the form of tools, sawed bones, and similar.

According to a new study published in Science Mag, that limitation is changing.

By looking for trace DNA in sediment layers, researchers are able to determine which ancient hominin once occupied a site, including the presence of long-gone Denisova hominin and Neanderthals.