Washington: In a new study, researchers have sequenced the genome of a recently discovered branch of extinct humans known as the Denisovans that once interbred with us.
Scientists have just completed sequencing the entire genome of a species of archaic humans called Denisovans.
The fossils, which consist of a finger bone and two molars, from this extinct lineage were discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia in 2008.
Scientists don’t know the precise age of the material found, though they estimate it ranges anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 years of age.
The researchers said that genetic analysis of the fossil revealed it apparently belonged to a little girl with dark skin, brown hair and brown eyes, researchers said.
All in all, the scientists discovered about 100,000 recent changes in our genome that occurred after the split from the Denisovans.
A number of these changes influence genes linked with brain function and nervous system development, leading to speculation that we may think differently from the Denisovans. Other changes are linked with the skin, eyes and teeth.
“This research will help [in] determining how it was that modern human populations came to expand dramatically in size as well as cultural complexity, while archaic humans eventually dwindled in numbers and became physically extinct,” Svante Paabo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said.
The study has been recently published online in the journal Science.
First Published: Friday, August 31, 2012, 11:01