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A new archaic species of human


The Denisovans add to the mix of early humans mingled into today's homo sapiens.


Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Svante Pääbo hasn’t just brought the Neanderthal back to life. The Altai cave in Siberia that provided a toe bone of a Neanderthal girl also delivered a tiny finger bone, above, that was very rich in DNA.

The genome, published in 2010, showed similarities to the Neanderthal genome, but it was different enough to be considered that of a new type of human – dubbed Denisovans.

It’s estimated that about 3% to 5% of the DNA of Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians is derived from Denisovans.

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Robin McKie is science and technology editor for the Observer newspaper in London.

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