Denisova Cave, positioned inside the foothills of the Altai mountains, is a really very important place inside the historic previous of human evolution. For over 300,000 years, this cave was the home to quite a few groups of archaic hominins.
These hominins included our shut relations, the Denisovans, and Neanderthals, whose genomes current a historic previous of interbreeding with each other (and with some anatomically modern human populations). In 2018, DNA was recovered from the stays of a form of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father (who himself had Neanderthal ancestry), suggesting that these interactions may have been frequent.
Nonetheless, for all, we discover out about Denisovans and Neanderthals on a genetic diploma, there nonetheless keep many unanswered questions on their histories. One of many essential primaries is: what exactly was taking place in Denisova Cave, and when? Everyone knows surprisingly little about who lived inside the cave over completely different durations all via its historic previous, along with when exactly the completely different human groups lived there (and whether or not or not they overlapped).
Answering these very elementary questions has been surprisingly robust. A number of the skeletal stays found inside the cave are older than 50,000 years, the greater prohibit of carbon-14 relationship. On prime of that, it modifications into clear that the layers all through the cave are pretty blended due to burrowing animals and geological processes, making the stratigraphy extraordinarily superior to type out.
Nonetheless, two articles revealed merely remaining week inside the journal Nature (Jacobs et al. 2019, Timing of archaic hominin occupation of Denisova Collapse southern Siberia, and Douka et al. 2019, Age estimates for hominin fossils and the onset of the Greater Paleolithic at Denisova Cave) go a long way in course of resolving the chronology of occupation of the cave.
Jacobs and colleagues used thermoluminescence relationship, which could resolve how prolonged it’s been since specific individual quartz crystals had been lastly uncovered to mild, to help understand the superior stratigraphy of the Pleistocene deposits inside the cave. By correlating dated strata with fossil stays and DNA present inside the soil, they had been able to decide that Denisovans had been dwelling inside the cave by as a minimum 200,000 years up to now and probably persevered until about 55,000 years up to now.
Neanderthals lived inside the cave between spherical 190,000-100,000 years up to now. Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA recovered from the soil in layers of the cave relationship to a similar time interval confirms overlapping occupations of the cave by the two groups.