If you look at what the scientists say, you’ll find out that the Neanderthals have disappeared a long time ago. Although this is true, it doesn’t change the fact that the modern humans we have today spent a huge amount of time with their own cousins. What’s more, they even interbred with them. However, they mated with other human species too.
Who Are the Denisovans?
The Denisovans were first discovered back in 2010. The names comes from the bone fragments that were discovered in the Denisova cave in Siberia, Russia. There were two species that used to live there: the Neanderthals and the Homo sapiens. After thorough research, however, the scientists found out that the bone fragments did not belong to either one of them.
On Thursday, a new research paper was published in the journal Cell. There, the researchers claimed that they had found two different episodes of Denisovan intermixing, from a genetic point of view. One of them was between the Denisovans and the Homo sapiens. At times, the people who lived in the cave are seen as subspecies of Homo sapiens.
Sharon Browning, who is the lead author of the study, working at the University of Washington, further explained their discovery. After comparing whole genome sequences of the Homo sapiens to the Denisovans, they noticed that the population living today in East Asia and Oceania contains the Denisovan genes. However, they also discovered a second set of the Denisovans ancestry, which wasn’t found in Papuans and South Asians. It seems that this is a feature they acquired themselves.
Finally, the current theory claims that a group of the Denisovans in the south interbred with the modern humans who lived in Oceania. Meanwhile, another group found in the north mated with the modern people who lived in East Asia. In the future, scientists are going to study other human populations that were spread all around the world. They hope to find more evidence of interbreeding between the Denisovans and modern humans.