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Transformation and diversity prehistory style

| November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

While the current global push is for schools to expand inclusion and to practise diversity, scientists have found what may be the most transformational archaeological evidence ever. A report was published in the journal Nature: International Journal of Science in August 2018, detailing a sliver of bone recently discovered in a cave in Russia by a multi-national group of scientists. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing of the bone shard has revealed that it belonged to a 13-year-old girl who died about 90 000 years ago. The girl, nicknamed by scientists Denisova 11, had a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father. National Geographic magazine said recently, “The Denisovans are a much more recent addition to the human family tree”. Viviane Slon, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPIEA) in Leipzig, Germany said in interview, “I never thought we would be so lucky as to find an actual offspring of the two groups”. While Neanderthals lived in the western part of Eurasia and Denisovans in the eastern region, the two were known to have mingled – but until now, there was no first-generation sample. The discovery of, and the science behind, the small bone sliver suggest that groups like Neanderthals did not become extinct but were absorbed by our modern human species. However, these forbears did not become next door neighbours. Says Pääbo, “Their genomes show they were quite distinct populations. They controlled separate territories – the Neanderthals in Europe, the Denisovans in east Asia – and occasionally met at the boundaries. But, importantly, the Denisova cave was a unique area where they met, and they had no prejudices against each other”. Swedish population geneticist Pontus Skoglund, says, “I think [this discovery] is going to go into the textbooks right away”. Another scientist has stated “It’s an amazing opportunity to study how our brain development meant that our species survived and thrived while our close relatives died out”.

Category: Summer 2018

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