News & AnalysisHUMAN EVOLUTION

Elusive Denisovans Sighted in Oldest Human DNA

Science  06 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6163, pp. 1156
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6163.1156

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Summary

Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and thought to have lived across Asia. Now, traces of them have turned up in an unexpected place—Spain. In a technical feat, researchers sequenced the oldest human DNA yet, retrieving an almost complete mitochondrial genome from a 300,000- to 400,000-year-old sliver of human bone found in Spain's Atapuerca Mountains. To their surprise, this proto-Neandertal yielded ancestral Denisovan DNA.

  • * With reporting by Michael Balter.