We cannot know a precise date, but it was around 90,000 years ago that two of our very distant relatives met in Siberia. They were archaic humans, also known as hominins – humans like us but not from our specific species, Homo sapiens. One, a male, was what we call a Denisovan. The other was a Neanderthal woman. And what they did together has astonished the scientific world.
The Denisovans, also known as Denisova hominins, were identified as recently as 2010. A single piece of finger bone from a young female, dated to some 40,000 years ago, was uncovered in the Denisova Cave. This special site lies in Siberia’s Altai Mountains and has been a rich source of information about our distant ancestors.
Confirmation that the finger bone and a tooth from the Denisova Cave belonged to a formerly unknown human species came from a team of experts led by Svante Pääbo, a Swedish scientist. And the team’s DNA analysis proved that these bones were from a new species of hominin.