Jawbone discovery sheds light on mysterious Denisovan race

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The discovery of a jawbone in the Tibetan plateau reveals new details about a race of ancient humans.

According to a study published in Nature, a jaw fossil with two unusually large teeth was found in Baishya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China by a local monk in 1980.

Recent analysis of proteins extracted from one of the molars indicates that the fossil is 160,000 years old, and belongs to a hominin population known as the Denisovans.

This race of humans were first discovered in 2010 by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology via a finger bone from Russia's Denisova Cave.

The New York Times reports that based on their DNA, the Denisovans shared a common ancestor with the Neanderthals some 400,000 years ago, later interbreeding with them and with modern humans. Traces of their DNA are found in present-day Asians, Australians, and Melanesians.

The fossil discovery suggests Denisovans had adapted to living in the low oxygen, high-altitude environment of the Tibetan plateau, which sits at an elevation of 10,760 feet.

According to the Institute of Tibetan research, this genetic adaptation was likely passed on to modern Himlayan populations, who were found to have a Denisovan gene that allows them to cope with thin air.

According to the New York Times, the jawbone is the first Denisovan fossil found outside Denisova Cave, and supports the theory that the species once lived across central and east Asia.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Jawbone fossil in Tibetan cave is 160,000 years old, belongs to Denisovans
2. Denisovans share common ancestor with Neanderthals; Denisovan DNA in present-day Asians, Australians, Melanesians
3. Denisovans adapted to low oxygen, high altitude environment; gene passed to modern Himalayan populations
4. Denisovans may have lived across central and east Asia

VOICEOVER (in English):
"According to a study published in Nature, a jaw fossil with two unusually large teeth was found in Baishya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China by a local monk in 1980."

"Recent analysis of proteins extracted from one of the molars indicates that the fossil is 160,000 years old, and belongs to a hominin population known as the Denisovans."

"The New York Times reports that based on their DNA, the Denisovans shared a common ancestor with the Neanderthals some 400,000 years ago, later interbreeding with them and with modern humans."

"Traces of their DNA are found in present-day Asians, Australians, and Melanesians."

"The fossil discovery suggests Denisovans had adapted to living in the low oxygen, high-altitude environment of the Tibetan plateau, which sits at an elevation of 10,760 feet."

"According to the Institute of Tibetan research, this genetic adaptation was likely passed on to modern Himlayan populations, who were found to have a Denisovan gene that allows them to cope with thin air."

"According to the New York Times, the jawbone is the first Denisovan fossil found outside Denisova Cave, and supports the theory that the species once lived across central and east Asia."

SOURCES:
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Nature, New York Times, National Geographic, The Guardian
https://www.mpg.de/13386452/first-hominins-on-the-tibetan-plateau-were-denisovans
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1139-x
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/science/denisovans-tibet-jawbone-dna.html
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/05/mysterious-ancient-human-denisovan-found-roof-world/
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/01/denisovan-jawbone-discovered-in-tibetan-cave