The lost tribe once went to Earth together with Neanderthals and humans. Their genetic heritage is still retained in us. But we do not know anything about this mysterious race. And our hopes to find out more down to a Siberian cave.
We have a tooth. Prstče. Some very old trifles. And some characteristic DNA.
That's all we have – so far – the long-lost hominine tribe called Denisovci.
They traveled throughout Asia around the same time as the Neanderthals.
And understanding means to learn more about ourselves.
While the traces of their bloodline are found in the cross in Asia, only one place is known to have occupied Denisovites, Neanderthals, and early modern humans.
And this is the Denisova cave in Russia, where they were given the name.
Now a study of researchers from the University of Wollongong is published in the scientific journal Nature. It sheds new light on those who lived in this cave, the various worlds in which they lived – and the legacy they passed through generations.
Who were Denisovani
The Denisov cave is hidden between the foothills of the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
Its significance as a shelter of ancient nations is known in the last 40 years.
But it rose to public significance in 2010, when the DNA came from one finger, discovered the existence of a previously unexpected type of hominine.
It caused a worldwide search for further evidence of this enigmatic species, as well as of the genetic legacy it left behind.
But most of what we know comes from this one place.
In 2018, a simple tiara made of woolen mammoth ivory was found buried in its depths.
There was a hole in the curved section, where a cable was used to fasten it to the back of the head. It's a date as if it was made about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago. It was done to keep hair out of the sight of its users. And it was discarded after it was broken.
Did the Denisites do that?
"We are probably dealing with another, more ancient culture, because there was not a single bone belonging to a homo sapiens found in the cave," the researcher at the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography Alexander Fedorchenko of Novosibirsk told the Siberian Times.
That's a big question. And one is not easy to answer.
Other intriguing objects were found in the cave. About 30 pieces of mammoth ivory were found from the cave. Among the most unique items are the fragments of the glittering green chlorite stone bracelet, beads made from oyster eggs – and the ancient reddish-brown processed hematite "chalk".
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Among the newer inventions – again in the Denisova cave itself – was a 90,000-year-old bone fragment from a 13-year-old child. It turned out to be the daughter of the mother of Neanderthal and Father Denisovan.
So, could the Denisites connect directly with modern humans? Or are their DNA transmitted through Neanderthal hybrids?
We know that homo sapiens appeared in other parts of Asia about 50,000 years ago.
So it depends on whether the evidence of the Denis occupation overlaps or not.
They seem to be doing this: some of the objects associated with them can date from 45,000 years ago.
"For the same reason, another open question is whether the Denisovites or modern people have made the oldest bones and personal ornaments [tooth pendants] found in the cave, "says co-author of the Oxford University study, Professor Tom Hajdam." With direct dates from 43,000 to 49,000 years ago, these are the earliest such artifacts known throughout northern Eurasia. "
The new study of nature is the result of a thorough investigation by researchers covering Russia, Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.
It put layers of dust found in the cave through a fine teeth comb.
It reveals that the site has been almost continuous for the past 300,000 years, whether it is one of the three icy ages that occurred at that time or during an intervening era of fertile heat.
Different travelers at different times left behind various artifacts.
Among them are those who are specifically identified as members of the mysterious Denisovci.
Their fossils and DNA residues date from 200,000 to 50,000 years ago.
Together with them were the Neanderthals, seeking refuge in the cavernous cave between 200,000 and 100,000 years.
Efforts were required to fix these deadlines.
Approximately 50 radioactive tests were carried out to date specific objects and layers of sediment.
Dr. Katerina Duuka of the Institute of Human History, Max Planck, Germany, used radiocarbon technology to date on relatively recent bones, teeth, and coal fragments at the upper levels of the cave.
She says the estimates of the new era of fossils "incorporate all available evidence of these small and isolated fossils, which can easily be displaced after sedimentation."
Thereafter, there were more than 100 ages obtained by optical dating of sediments (which reveals the last time a buried object was exposed to sunlight) to build a chronology for the Denisova cave.
This is combined with the genetic analysis of Denisova and the Altai Mountains of Neanderthals to give a statistical overview of what happened in the distant region.
Professor Zenobia Jakobs, a Wollongong University, contributed to the optical dating of cave sediments. The technique was used because much of the site was too old for a reliable radioactive node (most objects lose their natural radioactivity after about 50,000 years).
Fortunately, buried grains of quartz or felspar have traces of the duration of the time they were last exposed to sunlight. It can determine dates up to about 350,000 years.
"We had to invent several new methods to find the deepest and oldest embankments and build a robust chronology of the sediments in the Denisova Cave," said Professor Bo Lee, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong.
"This new chronology for the Denisova cave provides a timetable for the richness of data generated by our Russian colleagues about the archaeological and ecological history of the cave during the last three glacial-intercycle cycles," Professor Jacobs said in a statement.
Professor Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong says the study found more about the residents of the Siberian cave. But there is still a lot of need to learn.
"While these new studies have raised the veil of some of the mysteries of Denis's cave, other intriguing questions remain to be answered with further research and future discoveries," he says.
Much of what we know is done by connecting the various "points" in the archaeological record.
Their bones tell us what they might look like.
Their teeth tell us where they came from and what they ate.
Tools and ornaments have clues on their culture.
But the DNA is much more intimate.
The analysis of genetic coding can reveal the "spirits" of long-awaited human ancestors.
It also reveals exactly how it is "warm" each type with each other.
We know that people are measured with Neanderthals.
We know that the Neanderthals are measured with Denisovani.
Now we believe that he has a fourth partner in this ancient game to replace partners.
Regardless of whether there is a problem in the data or in the spirit of the genome, this remarkable trail has recently emerged from studies of the remains of people living in the Middle East between 14,000 and 3400 years.
It's another hominid branch.
They are called Basal Eurasians.
"If you want, it's a third branch," Chris Stringer told the Natural History Museum in London A new scientist. It is a branch separated from those who remained in Africa, as well as those that spread through Eurasia. No fossil evidence has yet been identified.
And similar studies point to the previously unexpected presence of Neanderthals in Africa recently, like 30,000 years ago.
What is certain is that the future of human history faces some significant rewrites.
If science is up to him.