Monday, November 14, 2011

Humans May Have Mated with Third Hominid Species Denisovans

This article explains how humans may have mated with Denisovans, a third hominid group that appears to have lived amongst modern humans and Neanderthals about 30,000-50,000 years ago. Denisovans, which are still a mystery to scientists, were discovered in 2008 when a group of scientists, led by Johannes Krause of Tubingen University in Germany, found fossils in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, the tip of child's finger bone and a adult's tooth, and analyzed their DNA. The DNA from the fossils did not match that of humans or Neanderthals, hence the discovery of a third hominid species. Further studies reveal that Denisovan DNA accounts for 5 percent of DNA in the inhabitants of Melanesia, a group of islands north of Australia including Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. This past week, scientists Pontus Skoglunda and Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University discovered that Denisovan DNA accounts for 1 percent of DNA in Southeast Asians. This new discovery shows how widespread the mating between humans and Denisovans may have been.

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