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Fossil tooth pushes back record of mysterious Neandertal relative

Denisovans lived in Asia at least 100,000 years ago, DNA analysis suggests

2:00pm, July 7, 2017
Denisovan fossil teeth

OLD CHILD  A 10- to 12-year-old female’s worn-down tooth found in a Siberian cave dates to at least 100,000 years ago, researchers report. That makes this fossil, shown from various angles, the oldest known from a Neandertal-related population called Denisovans.

DNA retrieved from a child’s worn-down fossil tooth shows the ancient Asian roots of extinct Neandertal relatives called Denisovans, researchers say.

A 10- to 12-year-old female Denisovan, represented by the tooth, lived at least 100,000 years ago, conclude evolutionary geneticist Viviane Slon of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues. That makes the tooth at least 20,000 years older than the oldest of the three previously discovered Denisovan fossils — a finger fragment and two teeth — the scientists report July 7 in Science Advances. All four Denisovan specimens were unearthed in Siberia’s Denisova Cave.

Slon’s group extracted an almost complete set of mitochondrial DNA from the youngster’s tooth. Mitochondrial DNA typically passes from mothers to their children. Investigators also obtained a small amount of

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