The Denis cave in Altai Mountains in Siberia was a hot property of the former – at least ancient men who called it home more than 200,000 years ago.
It was according to the researchers who found artifacts, fossils, and sediments excavated from the pit to the cave floor to compile a housing record.
In a newspaper published in Nature, they report that Denisovans – a dead man whose genome was reported in 2011 – occupied a cave from 287,000 to 50,000 years ago.
This overlaid with Neanderthals, who stayed there, but shorter: about 193,000 and 91,000 years ago.
Archaeologists did not know when time frames were made when Denisovani arrived in the cave, said Bert Roberts, geocologist at the University of Wollongong and co-author of both works.
"They could be there a million years ago or 100,000 years ago," said Professor Roberts.
We do not know if the Denis and Neanderthals were companions living in the cave at the same time.
However, the latest research "suggests that both groups lived in the region, met, and occasionally, crossed over for about 150,000 years," the researchers reported.
Fossil deep freezing
There is little known about mysterious Denisovans.
Their remains were found only in one place – the Denis cave, so their nickname – and even then, the fossils contain ring bone and several teeth of four different persons and a hybrid child.
"We know very little about them," said Professor Roberts.
"We do not even know how they looked."
This is because they did not identify the skeleton or skull for the first time, but their DNA, cut out of the precious bone of the young girl's finger.
The use of genetic material is possible because it is a cave, as it is in the Siberian mountains like a large freezer, preserving DNA that would normally break up in warmer, humid climates.
Russian scientists knew and excavated caves under 40, finding bones and objects such as tools and pendants.
But to reconstruct the living line, they had to give sedimentary dates.
Dirt layers act as archives of what happened in the cave at the time they were laid.
The idea is the deeper you dig, the more you see back in time.
Since the sediments in the cave lasted for at least 300,000 years, researchers had to use a number of dating techniques in one work.
They included radiocarbon dating, up to about 50,000 years ago, and optically-stimulated luminescence, measured when the quartz and feldspar minerals were last exposed to sunlight.
Optically-stimulated luminescence, along with some beautiful modeling, archeologists can restore about 300,000 years, said Zenobia Jacobs, also from Wollongong University and co-author of works.
In separate work, researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of denisian fossils, together with the remains of three neanderthals and hybrid babies.
They estimate that the oldest and youngest Denial fossils are 194 400 years old and the old 51,600 years old.
The neanderthals were between 90,900 and 147,300 years old, and the Neanderthal / Denisian child was aged between 79,300 and 118,100 years, which settled widely within the date determined by sediment analysis.
The issue of artifacts
Among the peninsula in Denis's cave there were engraved teeth and bone points from 43,000 to 49,000 years ago.
Did Denisovani make them?
The idea was initiated by researchers, but Darren Curnoe, a paleoanthropologist from New South Wales University who was not involved in the work, is unconvinced.
Although there are no signs that modern humans – Homo sapiens – lived in Denis Cave until much later, "they were not far away at the same time," he said.
Complex behaviors such as carving jewelery are typical for modern people.
"And now we have allegations in southern China that there have been modern people more than 100,000 years ago," Dr. Curnoe said.
"If that's right, then modern people have been in the neighborhood [of Siberia] for 50,000 years. "
Professor Jacobs said that attributing artifacts to the Denisovans was undoubtedly controversial.
"As Western scientists, we immediately assume, looking at such artefacts, they could be made by Homo sapiens.
"But we have associates who feel strongly that the evidence for Homo sapiens is not in the cave, there is no fossil or DNA, except in much later periods."
Denis's DNA in Australia
Indigenous Australians and Papua New Guinea populations have a relatively high percentage of Denisovan DNA, which their ancestors picked up in Asia before coming to Australia.
Recent genetic analyzes suggested that the crossing took place after the Altai Denisovani left the cave, said Joao Teixeira, a populist geneticist from the University of Adelaide who was not involved in the recent work.
So, despite the fact that there is no trace to the Denisians about 50,000 years ago in the cave – or anywhere else, it is very unlikely that a certain population was the last of their species.
"Not only is their geographic distribution more likely to be spread than Alta … but the nature of Denisovan DNA seems to point to different Denisovan populations, probably reflecting geographic isolation, which would then lead to a slight accumulation of genetic differences," says Dr. Teixeira.