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Sci Adv. 2017 Jul 7;3(7):e1700186. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700186. eCollection 2017 Jul.

A fourth Denisovan individual.

Author information

1
Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.
2
Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, M5S 2S2 Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.
4
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, Novosibirsk RU-630090, Russia.
5
Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, 48121 Ravenna, Italy.
6
Novosibirsk National Research State University, Novosibirsk RU-630090, Russia.
7
Altai State University, Barnaul RU-656049, Russia.

Abstract

The presence of Neandertals in Europe and Western Eurasia before the arrival of anatomically modern humans is well supported by archaeological and paleontological data. In contrast, fossil evidence for Denisovans, a sister group of Neandertals recently identified on the basis of DNA sequences, is limited to three specimens, all of which originate from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains (Siberia, Russia). We report the retrieval of DNA from a deciduous lower second molar (Denisova 2), discovered in a deep stratigraphic layer in Denisova Cave, and show that this tooth comes from a female Denisovan individual. On the basis of the number of "missing substitutions" in the mitochondrial DNA determined from the specimen, we find that Denisova 2 is substantially older than two of the other Denisovans, reinforcing the view that Denisovans were likely to have been present in the vicinity of Denisova Cave over an extended time period. We show that the level of nuclear DNA sequence diversity found among Denisovans is within the lower range of that of present-day human populations.

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