The discovery of some ancient teeth has surprised scientists.
The discovery of an old tooth is sending shockwaves through the anthropology world.
Scientists have conducted a DNA analysis of two teeth that were discovered in a cave in southwestern Siberia, and have found that Denisovans — early cousins to humans — had settled in that region a whopping 60,000 earlier than thought, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
That’s more than twice as long ago as scientists had believed.
Denisovans are considered early cousins to Homo sapiens, our species, and they were closely related to Neanderthals. Denisovans were only discovered back in 2008, and scientists have just learned a key bit of information about them with this discovery.
The teeth were found in Denisova Cave in the Altai mountains of Russia, and the findings were detailed in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Based on this information, the Denisovans would have resided in Siberia from 110,000 years ago to about 50,000 years ago.
Denisovans were first determined to be a distinct species from Neanderthals in 2010, when scientists sequenced the genome of a finger bone that had been found in the cave. Not much is known about them, and these teeth represent the first real opportunity to learn a lot more about them.
You’d have to go back a few hundred thousand years to find the common ancestor to Neanderthals, Denisovans, and us, Homo sapiens.
The Altai mountains are located in a remote part of Russia near the border with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China. Denisova Cave is located in the Bashelaksy Range of the mountains, and it has grown in prominence to become a significant site for scientists, with numerous bone fragments from ancient humans found there.