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First ever Denisovan skull fragments discovered

Posted on Tuesday, 12 March, 2019 | Comment icon 9 comments

The fragments were found inside a cave in Siberia. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Xenochka
The find is helping to improve our understanding of this obscure member of the hominin family tree.
First identified from a finger bone fragment discovered in a Siberian cave in 2010, this extinct species of archaic human continues to remain something of a mystery to palaeoanthropologists.

Thought to have separated from our own lineage up to 750,000 years ago, the Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals and may have lived alongside them for thousands of years.

This latest fossil discovery, which brings the total number of known Denisovan individuals up to five, represents the most significant skeletal evidence of these enigmatic hominins to date.

The skull fragments were unearthed in the same Siberian cave as the previous Denisovan fossils.

"It's very nice that we finally have fragments like this," said palaeoanthropologist Bence Viola from the University of Toronto. "It's not a full skull, but it's a piece of a skull. It gives us more."

"Compared to the finger and the teeth, it's nice to have."

In order to truly unravel the secrets of this species however, more complete fossils will be needed.

"This is exciting," said Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

"But, of course, it is only a small fragment. It's as important in raising hopes that yet more complete material will be recovered."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (9)

Tags: Denisovan

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Razumov on 12 March, 2019, 20:29 The new discovery consists of two connecting fragments from the back, left-hand side of the parietal bone, which forms the sides and roof of the skull. Together, they measure about 8 cm by 5 cm. DNA analysis proves that the piece is Denisovan, though it's too old to date with radiocarbon techniques. Viola and colleagues have compared the fragments to the remains of modern humans and Neanderthals, according to the conference abstract, although Viola is unwilling to discuss the details of what they learned until the work is... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog on 17 March, 2019, 16:25
It's why Bigfoot is mostly impossible... they found a lot of bones of our ancestry from species or subspecies that disappears far far ago. Bigfoot would have left traces too.  It's awesome that they continue do find parts of our phylogeny years after years. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Razumov on 26 March, 2019, 23:49
Live-streaming of AAPA Symposium "Deciphering the Denisovans" Nested in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia, there is a cave that revealed one of the most stunning scientific discoveries that have been made in recent years: the Denisovans. This elusive new archaic hominin species, distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans, is currently known only for its DNA extracted mostly from a terminal phalanx bone, probably from the left fifth digit ("pinky bone") of a girl who lived around 41,000 ... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Razumov on 29 March, 2019, 0:15
Comment icon #5 Posted by Piney on 30 March, 2019, 0:47
It makes me wonder if some of the Homo Erectus remains uncovered in China are actually Denisovans.  
Comment icon #6 Posted by Razumov on 30 March, 2019, 20:29
Comment icon #7 Posted by Razumov on 30 March, 2019, 20:41
Our mysterious cousins—the Denisovans—may have mated with modern humans as recently as 15,000 years ago The elusive Denisovans, the extinct cousins of Neanderthals, are known from only the scraps of bone they left in Siberia’s Denisova Cave in Russia and the genetic legacy they bequeathed to living people across Asia. A new study of that legacy in people from New Guinea now suggests that, far from being a single group, these mysterious humans were so diverse that their populations were as distantly related to each other as they were to Neanderthals. In another startling suggestion, the study i... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Mellon Man on 2 April, 2019, 9:33
This is significant. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 14 April, 2019, 15:21
Unless Bigfoot is just tiny relic populations of modern humans still living "the old ways" and doing their best to avoid us at all costs... Neat find nevertheless!

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