How many of you have heard of the Denisovians? Mysterious homo species which was originally discovered in 2010 thanks to genetic analysis of a single, 50,000-year-old finger bone found in a cave in Siberia. It was found amidst many other bones which were originally believed to be Neanderthal bones, and closely resemble them, so it was not until the widespread availability of genetic testing that we knew the finger bone’s DNA is far enough away from Neanderthals to count as a separate group.
Later genetic studies suggested that these distinct ancient humans split away from the Neanderthals sometime between 470,000 and 190,000 years ago. And they bred with humans sometime since then! Between 3% and 5% of the DNA of modern Melanesian and Aboriginal Australians’ is Denisovian. Cool!
Since 2010, two teeth from that cave have been shown to be Denisovian as well, thanks to DNA testing. And in July of 2017, a fourth Denisovian fossil was found!