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Denisovans

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Solving the mystery of the Red Deer Cave people

New DNA evidence is revealing the genetic relationships of ancient groups from southern China, showing how they were connected to living people across the region.

Two reconstructed partial skulls side by side representing the Red Deer Cave people
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An enormous sample sheds light on the Denisovan ancestry of people in Iceland

Laurent Skov and coworkers have measured the very small amount of DNA shared within the Iceland population from Denisovan ancestry and they discuss several scenarios for how it may have gotten there.

An Iceland landscape with Northern Lights in the sky reflected in a lake
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Part of a Denisovan mtDNA resides in the nuclear genomes of many living people

A paper last week by Robert Bücking and coworkers trawled through the recently-sequenced Indonesian Genome Diversity Project dataset looking for snippets of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that have been inserted into the nuclear genome. These snippets, called “NUMTs”, arise every so often as a result of DNA transfer from the mitochondrion

A reproduction of the Denisova 3 finger bone sits on a chalk outline of a hand
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Denisovan traits bring up the old problem of understanding morphological continuity

A paper by Shara Bailey and coworkers suggests that three-rooted lower molars are diagnostic of population mixture from Denisovans.

Fossil mandible from Xiahe, China, viewed from right side.
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How will ancient proteins change paleoanthropology?

Paleoproteomic methods may provide exciting avenues toward understanding pieces of fossils and their relationships.

Denisova 11 bone fragment in four views
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New species of hominin from Luzon

I reflect on the discovery from Callao Cave, Philippines, which reinforces the ability of ancient hominins to disperse across island Southeast Asia.

Teeth from the Homo luzonensis individual from Callao Cave
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Lecture: Who were the ancestors of the Neandertals?

Looking at what we know about Neandertal origins and how our understanding has changed in the last decade.

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How collagen fingerprinting is changing the way archaeologists understand ancient sites

Katarina Douka and coworkers are identifying the species of ancient bone fragments at a massive scale from Denisova Cave.

Three archaeologists working in a cave site with sediment profile
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Should we be surprised if Neandertals, Denisovans, and modern humans didn’t form stable hybrid zones?

Anthropologists have come a long way toward recognizing the complexity of modern human origins and dispersal. Ten years ago, I was one of a relative few who still maintained that mixture with Neandertals was important to our evolution. Over the last six years, the scale of Neandertal genetic introgression has

A Neandertal artist's reconstruction at the Neanderthal Museum, wearing a suit and holding a stone tool.
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Another Denisovan from Denisova Cave

A review of the 2015 work identifying the Denisova 8 specimen by Susanna Sawyer and coworkers.

Denisova 8 molar