Scientists, using sophisticated techniques to determine the age of bone fragments, teeth, and artifacts in a Siberian cave, are providing new insights into a mysterious, extinct human species that may be more advanced than previously.
Research published on Wednesday highlights the species called Denisovans, known only from the tangled remains of Denisova Cave in the foothills of the Altai Mountains in Russia.
Although still puzzling, they left evidence of our species, Homo sapiens, genetic evidence, especially among the indigenous populations of Papua New Guinea and Australia, which have a small but significant percentage of Denisovan DNA the mixing of earlier species between the species.
Fossils and DNA traces showed that Denisovans occurred in the cave at least 200,000 to 50,000 years ago, and Neanderthals, a closely related extinct human species, were there 200,000 to 80,000 years ago, according to new research. Stone tools suggested that one or both species occupied the cave 300,000 years ago.
Scientists last year described a Denisova Cave Bone fragment of a girl whose mother was a Neanderthal and a father was a Denisovan, proof of the cross. The girl nicknamed "Denny" lived about 100,000 years ago, as new research shows.
Supporters of animal teeth and bony spikes from the cave were 43,000 to 49,000 years old. They may have been made by Denisovans, indicating a degree of intellectual intelligence.
"Traditionally, these objects are associated with the expansion of our species in Western Europe and are seen as a hallmark of behavioralism, in which case Denisovans are their authors," said archaeologist Katerina Douka of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Science Human history in Germany.
Our species originated in Africa about 300,000 years ago and later spread worldwide. There is no evidence that Homo sapiens had reached Denisova Cave when these items were made.
Denisovans are known only for three teeth and a finger bone.
"New fossils would be particularly welcome as we know almost nothing about the appearance of Denisovans, except that they have rather chunky teeth," said geochronologist Zenobia Jacobs of the University of Wollongong in Australia.
"Their DNA in the modern Australian Aboriginals and New Guineans is strikingly striking that they may have been widespread in Asia and perhaps even in Southeast Asia, but we must look for hard evidence of their presence in these regions." Denisovan's History " said geochronologist Richard "Bert" of the University of Wollongong Roberts.
The research was published in the journal Nature .