Multiple lines of mysterious ancient humans interbred with us


Forum Elite
Oct 7, 2008
Modern DNA suggests that the Denisovans were surprisingly diverse—and may have been the last humans other than Homo sapiens on Earth.

Nearly a decade ago, a snippet of pinky bone found in Siberia introduced the world to a baffling new kind of ancient human. Called Denisovans, after the name of the cave in the Altai Mountains where the bone was found, these ancient relatives of the Neanderthals inhabited Asia for tens of thousands of years—yet no fossil trace of them has been found save that finger bone, a few teeth, and a scrap of skull, all from Denisova cave.
A study published today in Cell adds a surprising new twist to their mystery: DNA from a large sampling of living southeast Asians suggests that the ghostly Denisovans may be not one, but three distinct kinds of human, one of which is almost as different from other Denisovans as they are from Neanderthals.
What's more, while the Denisovans lived alongside humans for millennia, one group may have outlasted even the Neanderthals, who disappeared some 40,000 years ago. According to the study, these Denisovans co-existed and mixed with modern humans in New Guinea until at least 30,000 years ago—but perhaps as recently as 15,000 years ago—a date that, if confirmed, means Denisovans were the last known humans save ourselves to walk the Earth.
…. (first few paragraphs of much longer article, at