By: April Carson
Scientists have discovered that the young woman who died in Sulawesi around 7,000 years ago was not a native to this island. Her genome contains fewer genes from Denisovans than most modern Australian Aborigines and Papuans which suggests she is descended from an ancient population of hunter-gatherers living on land now occupied by Papua New Guinea's Baliem Valley.
The discovery was made by a team of scientists from Harvard Medical School and the University of Copenhagen. According to Professor David Reich, the study's senior author, "We expected that Papuans today would have a higher proportion of ancestry derived from Denisovans because they live near where the Denisovan cave is. What we found is a new kind of ancient human."
The new kind suggests that modern humans interbred with Denisovans less than 100,000 years ago somewhere outside Africa. The finding supports a theory first published last year by Professor Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide who proposed this after sequencing the genome of two extinct Tasmanian Devils.
The discovered remains were found during excavations at Panninge Cave in 2015 and turned out to be the culture's first nearly complete burial. At a depth of about 190 centimeters, the woman was interred in a bent posture.
Bone powder obtained from a portion of the temporal bone was used by geneticists to extract ancient DNA. Scientists compared the acquired genome with existing sequences for ancient people from Eastern Eurasia and present-day inhabitants of East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania in order to determine that it does not belong to either modern or ancient humans.
The settlement of Indonesia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands -
The settlement of Indonesia, Australia and Oceania remains an extremely controversial topic in science. This is primarily due to the small amount fossil evidence available for study as well as a lack or poor preservation conditions which would otherwise lead scientists astray when looking at old bones with DNA inside them - like human beings themselves are made up mostly from cells!
But despite all this uncertainty about how humans first arrived down under 50k years ago (or more), most paleogeneticists agree that there was indeed some kind invader who crept into these three countries way back then: somebody else just like us... with a brain twice as big as ours, but not quite the same mind inside it.
"Neanderthal?" you think, hoping that science is on your side today.
Genetic Research Has Been Conducted -
One of the most interesting discoveries in recent years is that many people across Oceania and Southeast Asia share ancestors from Denisovans. Up until now, it was thought that only Negrito tribes had this ancient admixture but recently genetic testing showed evidence linking them to other populations as well including Australian Aboriginals who were not known for having such ties before now!
Where did these unknown relatives live? What languages do they speak? Who knows - time will tell when scientists finally unlock all secrets behind human evolution.
Genetic studies show many people living today have genes originating from this elusive group called "the Denisovans". Recent genetic research into these findings showed scientists were able find traces as far back at Southeast Asia and Oceania tribes indigenous Australians settlers on mainland Asia or even a third, unknown continent that has disappeared into history.
The Mixing of Two Populations -
The world is a diverse place, with many different people living there. Some of these groups are known to carry admixture from two other populations that share Denisovans as a trait- the Altai and unknown second.
The Philippine Negritos have been found in this gene pool at 34%, exceeding any seen Papuan or indigenous Australians at 25%. The admixture of the Denisovan gene pool is especially prominent in Micronesia, Polynesia, and East Asia.