Guardian: New species of human ancestor found in Siberia

Over at guardian.co.uk, scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology announced the discovery of what could be another species belonging to the Homo lineage. Here are some excerpts culled from the Guardian news article:

Altai Mountains

The finding suggests an undocumented human species lived alongside Neanderthals and early modern humans in parts of Asia as recently as 30,000 years ago. If confirmed, it would be the first time a new human ancestor has been identified since the discovery of Homo floresiensis, the diminutive “hobbits” that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until 13,000 years ago.

Fragments of the finger bone were recovered from Denisova cave in the Altai mountain range that straddles Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. The cave was occupied by humans for 125,000 years and a variety of stone tools and bones have been recovered.

The size of the bone has led scientists to believe it came from a child, aged between five and seven, though they are unable to say whether it was male or female.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, ran genetic tests on the bone fragments and were stunned to find it did not match the DNA profile of Neanderthals or early modern humans.Johannes Krause sequenced DNA from mitochondria, the sub-cellular bodies that carry genetic material passed down only the maternal line. Because the DNA came from the mother, they called the creature “X-woman”.

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