Denisovan DNA in Late Pleistocene sediments from Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau

Journal: Science

Published: 2020-10-30

DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6320

Affiliations: 14

Authors: 27

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Research Highlight

Genetic analysis confirms Denisovan presence on Tibetan Plateau

© VW Pics/Getty

© VW Pics/Getty

The discovery of Denisovan DNA in a cave high on the Tibetan Plateau suggests these ancient humans were more widespread across Asia than previously thought.

The Denisovans were a close relation of Neanderthals, and their existence was revealed by a few teeth and bone fragments found in the Denisova Cave in the mountains of Southern Siberia.

Now, a team led by researchers from Lanzhou University has uncovered evidence that Denisovans also occupied the Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe County, China, just over three kilometres above sea level.

A partial jawbone found in the cave was thought to be Denisovan, but the DNA evidence was unclear. Now, genetic analysis of sediment from the cave, as well as study of the cave’s rock strata, offer stronger evidence that Denisovans lived in the cave between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago, and may have adapted to life at high altitudes.

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  1. Science 370, 584–587 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.abb6320
Institutions Share
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems, LZU, China 0.32
Department of Evolutionary Genetics, MPI-EVA, Germany 0.26
CAS Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, IVPP CAS, China 0.15
Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS), UOW, Australia 0.04
University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia 0.04
CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, China 0.04
Department of Biology, University of Richmond, United States of America (USA) 0.04
CAS Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology and Biodiversity (LAEB), ITP CAS, China 0.02
CAS Center for Excellence and Innovation in Tibetan Plateau Earth System Sciences (CEITPES), ITP CAS, China 0.02
School of Earth Sciences, LZU, China 0.02
Department of Anthropology, UNR, United States of America (USA) 0.02
ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC), United States of America (USA) 0.02
ASU Institute of Human Origins (IHO), United States of America (USA) 0.02
Frontier Center for Eco-environment and Climate Change in Pan-third Pole Regions, LZU, China 0.01