Scientists using sophisticated techniques to determine the age of bone fragments, teeth and artifacts in a Siberian cave have provided new insights into a mysterious extinct human species that may have been more advanced than previously known.
Research published Wednesday We highlight the species called Denisovans, which is known only from tangled remains of Denisova Cave in the foothills of the Altai Mountains in Russia.
Although still puzzling, they left a genetic mark on our species, Homo sapiens, Papua New Guinea and Australia, which contain a small but significant percentage of Denisovan DNA, attesting to earlier interspecies crosses.
Fossils and DNA traces showed that Denisovans were in the cave at least 200,000 to 50,000 years ago, and Neanderthals. A closely related extinct human species that occurred there 200,000 to 80,000 years ago, found the new research. Stone tools indicated that one or both species could have occupied the cave 300,000 years ago.
Last year, scientists described a Denisova cave bone fragment of a girl whose mother was a Neanderthal woman and her father a Denisovan, proof of the crossing. The girl nicknamed "Denny" lived about 1
Supporters of animal teeth and bone points from the cave should be between 43,000 and 49,000 years old. They may have been made by Denisovans, suggesting 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 behavioral modernity, in this case Denisovan's authors," said archaeologist Katerina Douka of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Humanity in Germany.
Our species originated in Africa about 300,000 years ago and later spread worldwide. There is no evidence that Homo sapiens reached Denisova Cave when these items were made.
Denisovans are known only from three teeth and a finger bone.
"New fossils are particularly welcome, as we know almost nothing about the physical aspect The appearance of Denisovans, apart from the rather large teeth," says geochronologist Zenobia Jacobs from the University of Wollongong in Australia.
"Their DNA in modern Australian Aboriginals and New Guineans, which were tempting in Asia, and possibly even to Southeast Asia, but we need to find some hard evidence of their presence in these regions to filter out the entire history of the Denisovans", added geochronologist Richard "Bert" of the University of Wollongong, Richard "Bert" Roberts.
the journal Nature.