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A portrait of a young female Denisovan. [Mirror]

Health & Science
Denisovans lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals 100,000 years ago, but until now, their appearance remained a mystery

It’s one of the most mysterious human ancestors in history, and now scientists have revealed what the Denisovans might have looked like.

Denisovans lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals 100,000 years ago, but until now, their appearance remained a mystery

It’s one of the most mysterious human ancestors in history, and now scientists have revealed what the Denisovans might have looked like.

Denisovans lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals 100,000 years ago, but until now, their appearance remained a mystery.

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Now, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have provided the first reconstruction of a Denisovan, based on patterns of methylation in their ancient DNA.

Liran Carmel, an author of the study, said: "We provide the first reconstruction of the skeletal anatomy of Denisovans.

“In many ways, Denisovans resembled Neanderthals, but in some traits, they resembled us, and in others they were unique.”

In the study, the researchers compared DNA methylation patterns between three early human groups to find regions in the genome that were very different.

Next, the team looked for evidence about what these difference might mean for anatomical features.

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This allowed them to predict the features that the Denisovans may have shared with early modern humans and Neanderthals, and the features that were unique to the species.

Their analysis revealed 56 anatomical features that set Denisovans apart from modern humans or Neanderthals.

For example, the Denisovan’s skull was likely wider than that of modern humans or Neanderthals, while they probably also had a longer dental arch.

However, several features were found to be similar to those in early modern humans and Neanderthals, including an elongated face and wide pelvis.

Mr Carmel added: “Studying Denisovan anatomy can teach us about human adaptation, evolutionary constraints, development, gene-environment interactions, and disease dynamics.

”At a more general level, this work is a step towards being able to infer an individual's anatomy based on their DNA."


Denisovans Neanderthals Hebrew University Jerusalem

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