DNA tracks mysterious Denisovans to Chinese cave, just before modern humans showed up

DNA tracks mysterious Denisovans to Chinese cave, just before modern humans showed up

In a new paper in Science, archaeologist Dongju Zhang’s research team reports the first Denisovan ancient DNA found outside Denisova Cave: mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) gleaned not from fossils, but from the cave sediments themselves. Precise dates show the Denisovans took shelter in the cave 100,000 years and 60,000 years ago, and possibly as recently as 45,000 years ago, when modern humans were flowing into eastern Asia.

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producer/editor
Aurélie Beatley

supervising producer
Joel Goldberg

animations/illustrations
Aurélie Beatley

script by
Joel Goldberg

special thanks
Laura Zahn
Elizabeth Culotta
Ann Gibbons

photos
Dongju Zhang

video
Dongju Zhang

Denisovan portrait
Maayan Harel/Copyright Maayan Harel, Maayan Visuals

music
“Tibetan Monk” by Pondtunez/Pond5

original research
D. Zhang et al., Science 2020
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6320