Denisovans and Neandertals - Scientists have deciphered features of the skull and some other details of mysterious Denisovans, extinct cousin of Neanderthals by analyzing its DNA.
Who were Denisovans and Neandertals?
- The genetic material came from the finger bone of a female member of the Denisovans, a population known mostly from small bone fragments and teeth recovered in Siberia’s Denisova Cave.
- Neanderthals Or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans in the genus Homo, who lived within Eurasia from 400,000 until 40,000 years ago.
- The Denisovans or Denisova hominins are an extinct group of archaic humans in the genus Homo without a defined taxonomic name.
- Denisovans may have occupied the Denisova cave in Siberia from more than 200,000 years ago to around 50,000 years ago
Features of Denisovans
- It is believed that some 600,000 years ago, the lineage that led to modern humans split from the one that led to Neanderthals and Denisovans.
- Then about 400,000 years ago, Denisovans and Neanderthals themselves split into separate branches.
- Denisovans ranged from Siberia to Southeast Asia and may have persisted until as recently as 30,000 years ago, based on their genetic legacy in living Southeast Asians.
- Though different from Denisovans and Neanderthals, human species did interbreed with both and picked up genetic markers that are still detectable in some people today.
- Hundreds of Neanderthal skeletons, including intact skulls, have been found over the years.
- But the only fossils conclusively linked to Denisovans are a bone from the girl plus three teeth, all from Denisova Cave, and a recently identified lower jaw from China's Baishiya Karst Cave.
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- Most features were common with Neanderthals, including robust jaws, a low forehead, a large ribcage and a wide pelvis.
- Denisovans had wider face - Denisovans had a wider face than Neanderthals and our own species, and a more protruding face than our own species but less so than Neanderthals.
- Such DNA analysis can teach scientists about how our forerunners evolved and how their development differed.