INDIA: Scientists have long been fascinated with the extinct Denisovian human species, which lived thousands of years ago.
A recent study has shed new light on the Denisovians, providing new insights into their physical characteristics and genetic makeup. Scientists first identified Denisovians in 2010 after discovering a finger bone and a tooth in the Denisova Cave in Siberia.
Since then, scientists have found additional bones and genetic material in the cave and elsewhere in Asia. These discoveries have revealed that Denisovians was a distinct human species that lived alongside Neanderthals and modern humans.
The new study, published in the Science Advances journal, analysed the genomes of four Denisovian individuals who lived between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago.
The researchers found that the Denisovians were more genetically diverse than previously thought and that the species interbred with other hominin species, including Neanderthals and an unknown group of hominins. The study also provided insights into the physical characteristics of the Denisovians.
The researchers found that the species had several unique features, including a wider skull and a larger dental arch than Neanderthals. They also had a larger thorax and wider pelvis than modern humans.
The genetic analysis also revealed that the species had adapted to high altitudes, suggesting they lived in mountainous regions. Archaeological evidence supports the finding, indicating that the Denisovians inhabited the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
One of the study’s most interesting findings was the discovery of a Denisovian individual who had a half-Neanderthal, half-Denisovian parent. This individual, named by scientists as Denny, was previously identified in a separate study in 2019.
The fact that Denny had parents from two different hominin species suggests that interbreeding between distinct groups of hominins was more common than previously thought. The discovery of Denny also provided new insights into the genetic makeup of Denisovians.
The researchers found that Denisovians had inherited genetic material from an unknown hominin group, which they referred to as the “super-archaic” population. Scientists believe this hominin group split from the common ancestor of humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovians around one million years ago.
The study has significant implications for our understanding of human evolution. The fact that Denisovians interbred with other hominin species suggests that the boundaries between different human groups were not as rigid as previously thought.
It also suggests that there may have been many more extinct hominin species than are known currently. The researchers say that further studies are needed to understand the relationships between different hominin groups and the extent of interbreeding between the hominin species.
The researchers also note that the genetic diversity of Denisovians suggests that there may have been multiple populations of Denisovians living in different parts of Asia.
Overall, the study provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Denisovians and the complex relationships between different hominin species.
As scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of human evolution, the story of the Denisovians is likely to become an increasingly important part of the narrative.
Also Read: ISRO Successfully Tests Cryogenic Engine of Chandrayaan-3