The Straits Times
Published on Aug 31, 2012

DNA scan sheds new light on mankind's mysterious cousins


PARIS (AFP) - A scrap of bone found in a cave in Siberia has shed light on the genetic odyssey of an enigmatic group of humans called the Denisovans, scientists reported on Thursday.

The existence of the Denisovans only emerged in 2010, through a piece of finger bone and two molars unearthed at the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia's Altai Mountains and dated to around 80,000 years ago.

But what the Denisovans looked like and what happened to them remained in a fog.

Nothing was known other than that they were contemporaries of the Neanderthals - another "cousin" species of Homo sapiens which may have been wiped out by the arrival of anatomically modern man or, say some, interbred with him.