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A digital record of an early Siberian

A digital record of an early SiberianCredit: David Reich et al., Nature

Anatomically modern humans were in Africa from some point after 200,000 years ago and reached Eurasia rather later. Meanwhile archaic hominins - including the Neanderthals - had been in Eurasia from at least 230,000 years ago and disappear from the fossil record only about 30,000 years ago. The genome of a female archaic hominin from the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia has now been sequenced from DNA extracted from a finger bone. The group to which this ‘Denisovan’ individual belonged shares a common origin with Neanderthals and although it was not involved in the putative gene flow from Neanderthals into Eurasians, it contributed 4-6% of the genomes of present-day Melanesians. In addition, the morphology of a tooth with a mitochondrial genome very similar to that of the finger bone suggests that these hominins are evolutionarily distinct from both Neanderthals and modern humans.

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