Friday, May 24, 2019

The Mysterious Denisovans

A newfound extinct human lineage that lived in New Guinea interbred with modern humans, a new study finds. This lineage's genetic differences from other humans made it as distinct a group as our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, scientists added. 
Although modern humans are now the only living branch of the human family tree, others not only lived alongside modern humans, but even interbred with them, leaving behind DNA in the modern human genome. These archaic lineages not only included the Neanderthals, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, but also the mysterious Denisovans, known only from fossils unearthed in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. 
Previous research found that while Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals, they were nearly as genetically distinct from Neanderthals as Neanderthals were from modern humans. Prior workestimated the ancestors of modern humans split from the common ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans about 700,000 years ago, and the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged from one another about 400,000 years ago. [Denisovan Gallery: Tracing the Genetics of Human Ancestors] (Read more.)

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