A rare kind of primitive man wandered through the forests of Eurasia 200,000 years ago, and may have made tools and even jewelry, according to a new study released Wednesday.
Denisovani – a neanderthal cousin – was discovered in 2010 when scientists working in a cave in southern Siberia got the fingertip of a girl who belonged to an unidentified group of people.
Since they have only been in Denis Cave so far, they know much less about them than their well-known Neanderthal relatives, who carried out sophisticated hunting strategies in groups, made fire, tools and clothing.
In two works published in Nature, two international team of scientists now claim that Denisovani settled down the cave 200,000 years ago.
To reach that conclusion, they had to overcome several obstacles that make the prototype man particularly cunning.
"The big challenge is that the human remains are microscopically-the largest is 2 cm tall and they are really tough nowadays because they all drop either on or off the radiocarbon dating date," Tom Higham, director of Oxford University's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the study's author for AFP.
Carbon yield, which uses half-life of radioactive isotopes of carbon to demonstrate the age of organic matter, is only reliable on samples up to 50,000 years old.
High and the team dug up a few previously unexplored bone fragments and managed to get DNA samples from one of them.
They then used a mathematical model that consists of available carbon data as well as sedimentation, genomic mutations, and archaeological data to determine with great certainty when Denisovci settled their homonymous dwellings.
"200,000 years ago, maybe older than 50,000 when the Denisians disappeared from that place," Higham said.
Like human remains, researchers have found perforated animal teeth that can be used as necklaces, bone tools, shells, and stone bracelets – all of the artefacts that were previously associated only with modern humans and, more recently, with Neanderthals .
In the absence of any remaining hominum in the caves where objects were found, Higham said that the "most likely explanation" was that they were the work of Denisovana.
"The earliest (facilities) dates back to 49,000 years ago, which is the earliest proof of such behavior in northern Eurasia, if not the entire Eurasian continent," he said.
"Evidence suggests that the most likely explanation is that the Denisans are doing it."
If confirmed, the finding could transform what we know about how our ancestors survived and socialized.
Denis Cave was the last time in August in the discovery of Denny, the semi-Neanderthal semi-Denisian hybrid, which was the first proof of the reciprocal reproduction of these two early human species.
The team behind the studio said on Wednesday that they now believe that Denny appeared about 100,000 years ago, meaning that the Neanderthals and Denisans had crossed for millennia before they disappeared 40,000 years ago.
Writing in nature, Robin Dennell from Exeter University's Department of Archeology said that new studies provided "a rigorous and compelling time scale for the cave and its contents."
(In addition to the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and released from a syndicated feed.)