First look at the face of Denisovans
A jawbone of enigmatic human relative found in Tibet
Fossil remains of the Denisovans are very rare. Closely related to Neanderthals, this mysterious population was first detected by mapping the ancient genome of some of the fossils from Denisova cave in Siberia. A small part of the Denisovan genome occurs in some modern populations living today in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Recently, researchers identified the right half of a lower jaw from Tibet, dating to 160,000 years ago, as belonging to this species. Using molecular analysis, the study showed that ancient proteins preserved in this jawbone match those of the Denisovan fossils from Siberia. This finding will help scientists identify other fossil jaws and teeth of Denisovans, and may help figure out who the Denisovans were and how they interacted with modern humans.
Published in the journal Nature May 1, 2019, by Fahu Chen and colleagues.