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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Denisovans: Long lost in the tooth

(Map by John D. Croft)
Once upon a time, Denisovans roamed the earth.  Turns out that “once upon a time” is a lot longer ago than scientists had presumed.

James Rogers of Fox News reports that “a prehistoric tooth discovered in a remote cave in Russia” is 50,000 years older than previously-found Denisovan relics.  This indicates that these “long-lost cousins” of ours were around for a really long time.

They eventually interbred with Neanderthals, as well as with modern humans.  In fact, “small amounts of Denisovan DNA” have been noted in present-day Melanesians.

Denisovan teeth were about “double the size of a modern human tooth.”  The genetic makeup of Denisovans shows twice as much diversity as that of Neanderthals, and almost as much as that of today's people.

So how and why did Denisovans go extinct?  That remains a mystery.


Copyright November 19, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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