Scientists have given a first insight into our prehistoric relatives, the Denisovans.
Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have reconstructed the Denisovan skeletal anatomy.
While much is known about Neanderthals due to their numerous remains discovered in Europe and Asia, experts find that Denisovans are still shrouded in secrets. "Denisovan remains were first discovered in 2008 and have since fascinated researchers of human evolution," the Hebrew University said in a statement. "They lived in Siberia and East Asia and died out about 50,000 years ago. We do not know why yet. "
PREHISTORIC TOOTH DEVELOPMENTS SURPRISING DETAILS TO LONG LOST HUMAN COUSINS. "Just how exactly our Denisovans looked could not have been for one simple reason: The entire Denisovan remains are three teeth, a small bone and a lower jaw," the Hebrew University said.
In an attempt to shed new light on Denisovan, experts examined the methylation or chemical changes in the old DNA to develop their reconstruction of the long-lost human cousins.
"We offer the first reconstruction of the skeletal anatomy of the Denisovans," said lead author of the study, Professor Liran Carmel. "In many ways the Denisovans resembled the Neanderthals, but in some ways they resembled us and in others they were unique." His colleagues identified 56 anatomical features in which Denisovans differ from modern humans and Neanderthals. Thirty-four of the facial features were in the skull, with experts noting that Denisovans' skulls were probably wider than those of humans and Neanderthals. Based on their research, scientists also believe that Denisovans had a longer arch and a less pronounced chin.
The researchers studied chemical modifications that affect the activity of a gene for three years, but not the underlying DNA sequence, and compared them to humans and Neanderthals. "In this way we were given a prediction of which skeletal parts are affected by the differential regulation of each gene and in which direction this skeletal part would change – for example, a longer or shorter femur," said the co-author of the study, David Gokhman. Ph.D. explained.
The study was published in the journal Cell.
In a separate project, a tooth that was excavated in 2010 from the Denisova Cave in the Siberian Altai Mountains was comprehensively analyzed. The results published in 2015 showed that the Denisovans were there much earlier than anybody had thought.
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Earlier this year, scientists in another project discovered that a Denisovan finger bone is more similar to a human finger bone than a Neanderthal finger.
Christopher Carbone of Fox News contributed to this article.
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