New Type of Ancient Human Found - Descendants Live Today?
"Nothing is more intriguing than learning new twists about our origins, and this is another new twist."
- Brian Richmond, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University
A previously unknown kind of human—the Denisovans—likely roamed Asia for thousands of years, probably interbreeding occasionally with humans like you and me, according to a new genetic study.
In fact, living Pacific islanders in Papua New Guinea may be distant descendants of these prehistoric pairings, according to new analysis of DNA from a girl's 40,000-year-old pinkie bone, found in Siberian Russia's Denisova cave.
This "new twist" in human evolution adds substantial new evidence that different types of humans—so-called modern humans and Neanderthals, modern humans and Denisovans, and perhaps even Denisovans and Neanderthals—mated and bore offspring, experts say.
Taken together with a May DNA study that found Neanderthals also interbred with modern human ancestors, the Denisovan finding suggests there was much more interbreeding among different human types than previously thought, Stanford University geneticist Brenna Henn said.