An incredible new finding deep in a cave in Eastern Europe could totally change the future of anthropology.
Scientists were blown away by something they just found in a cave in Croatia, and it’s finding that could change the future of archaeology and anthropology itself. Researchers discovered genetic material trapped in sediment samples collected form archaeological sites that didn’t even have bones, allowing us a new way to find the presence of extinct humans without the need to discover a skeleton.
It’s a big find because it could help us learn more about ancient humans, who we would only be able to study via the artifacts they left behind before. Now, we can find details about their existence, including what kind of humans they were and their genetic information, without finding things we typically rely on like bones from their skeletons.
The findings were published in the journal Science and could represent a breakthough as we seek to crack the code of human history and learn more about how we evolved.
“While there are numerous prehistoric sites in Europe and Asia that contain tools and other human-made artefacts, skeletal remains of ancient humans are scarce,” the statement from Max-Planck-Gesellschaft reads. “Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have therefore looked into new ways to get hold of ancient human DNA. From sediment samples collected at seven archaeological sites, the researchers “fished out” tiny DNA fragments that had once belonged to a variety of mammals, including our extinct human relatives. They retrieved DNA from Neandertals in cave sediments of four archaeological sites, also in layers where no hominin skeletal remains have been discovered. In addition, they found Denisovan DNA in sediments from Denisova Cave in Russia. These new developments now enable researchers to uncover the genetic affiliations of the former inhabitants of many archaeological sites which do not yield human remains.”