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Skull construction of ancient human ancestor using DNA

Date: 20 September 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Scientists say they’ve deciphered features of the skull and some other details of a mysterious, extinct cousin of Neanderthals by analyzing its DNA.

 

Background

Period of human evolution is dotted with emergence of other sub species which intermixed with the dominant population and passed onto some genes to modern humans. The Denisovans were one such groups to become extinct. Their skeletal remains have been excavated and are being used to recreate their facial features.

 

Details

  • The DNA analysis can teach scientists about how our forerunners evolved and how their development differed.

  • The genetic material came from the finger bone of a female member of the Denisovans, a population known mostly from small bone fragments and teeth recovered in Siberia’s Denisova Cave.

  • Denisovan jaw fragment  are at least 16,000 years old was reported from in China. But that still gave scientists very little sign of what Denisovans looked like.

  • Modern-day people did not evolve from Denisovans or Neanderthals, although our species interbred with both and picked up genetic markers that are still detectable in some populations.

 

Neanderthals

Neanderthals are an extinct species or subspecies of ancient humans in the genus Homo, who lived within Eurasia from circa 400,000 until 40,000 years ago. Compared to modern humans, Neanderthals were stockier, with shorter legs and bigger bodies.