Oldest Remains of Mysterious, Extinct Human Ancestors Unearthed in Siberian Cave

The oldest fossils of the Denisovans have been found. The 200,000-year-old bones and stone artifacts discovered by researchers are related to the extinct relatives of modern humans.

The Denisovans, an extinct branch of the human family tree, are the closest known relatives of modern humans.

The analysis of Denisovan fossils suggests they may have once been widespread across Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, and that at least two distinct groups of Denisovans interbred with ancestors of modern humans.

Scientists have only found half a dozen Denisovan fossils. Live Science reported that five were found in Denisova Cave in Siberia, and one was found in a holy site in China.

There are three Denisovan fossils in Denisova Cave. The oldest Denisovans ever found are estimated to be 200,000 years old. The earliest Denisovan specimen was between 122,000 and 194,000 years old.

Denisovan images show the genetics of human ancestors.

Researchers looked at 3,791 bone scraps from Denisova Cave. They looked for Denisovan based on previous research.

Bone fragments are used for analysis. S. Brown.

Scientists identified five human bones from these scraps. One of the four contained enough genetic material to be identified as Neanderthal, Denisovan, or both. Two of the fossils may be from one person or from a related individual.

Katerina Douka, an archaeological scientist at the University of Vienna in Austria, told Live Science that they were excited to identify three new Denisovan bones.

We specifically targeted the layers where no other human fossils had been found before.

The age of the Denisovan fossils was estimated by using the layer of earth in which they were found. The stone artifacts and animal remains found in this layer may be important clues to the Denisovan life and behavior.

The Russian Academy of Sciences has a branch in Siberia.

The eastern chamber of Denisova Cave has been excavated.

Previously, Denisovan fossils were only found in layers without archaeological material, or in layers with Neanderthal material.

"This is the first time we can say with certainty that Denisovans were the makers of the archaeological remains we found associated with their bone fragments," Douka said.

The new findings show that the climate was warm and comparable to today when these Denisovans lived, in a place that included broad-leaved forests and open steppe.

The Denisovans may have fed on deer, horses, bison, and woolly rhinoceroses, according to the remains found in the cave.

Douka said that Denisovans were well-adapted to their environments.
The stone artifacts found in the same layer as the Denisovan fossils are mostly scraper tools, which were used to deal with animal skins. The raw material for these items is believed to have come from a river just outside the entrance to the cave.

The site's strategic point in front of a water source and the entrance of a valley would have been a great spot for hunting.

The stone tools linked with the new fossils are not the same as those in north or central Asia. The items are similar to items found in Israel between 250,000 and 400,000 years ago, which are linked with major shifts in human technology.

Denisovans may not have been the only person in the cave at that time. Denisovans may have competed with wolves and wild dogs for food in the cave.

Douka said that the team is working at Denisova Cave and other Asian sites and hopes to report some interesting new stuff soon.

The scientists detailed their findings in a journal.

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The article was published by Live Science. The original article can be found here.