Prehistoric Tooth Offers New Insight Into Mysterious Human 'Cousins' Denisovans

Posted: Nov 18 2015, 1:54am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Prehistoric Tooth Offers New Insight into  Mysterious Human 'Cousins' Denisovans
The 'Denisova 8' molar. Credit: Robert Clark, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The tooth dates back to 110,000 years ago and confirms the existence of Denisovans

A fossilized tooth, recovered in Serbian cave, provides surprising details about the long-lost relatives of humans known as Denisovans. 

The DNA extracted from the ancient tooth not only confirms the existence of Denisovans, but also suggests that these ancient relatives also co-existed with Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens. 

The ancient tooth was excavated from Serbia’s Altai Mountains in 2010 and analyzed thoroughly by the researchers. The tooth belonged to a woman who lived around 110,000 years ago, roughly 60,000 years ago than the oldest known evidence. 

The other known evidences are a single tooth and a finger bone discovered in 2008 which dates back to be somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 years old. The analysis showed that newly discovered tooth belonged to the same lineage of hominins which they call Denisovans.

Denisovans were closely related to Neanderthals that went extinct around 400,000 years ago. Bence Viola, a paleoanthropologist at University of Toronto and co-author of the study suggests that Denisovans lived in the region around 110,000 to 50,000 years ago, much earlier than initially thought and must have been able to thrive harsher conditions for thousands of years before perishing. 

Though, the tooth named ‘Denisova 8’ yielded a fraction of amount of DNA but it was enough to draw some kind of conclusion. 

“The world at that time must have been far more complex than previously thought,” said Susanna Sawyer who led the genetic effort to elaborate the tooth history. “Who knows what other hominids lived and what effects they had on us.”

However, there is too little evidences to describe how exactly the very old ‘cousins’ of humans looked like.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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