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Later analysis of nuclear DNA sequences from two specimens showed they were more closely related to Neanderthals rather than to Denisovans, while one of these samples also had the Denisovan-related mt DNA.The authors suggest that the mt DNA found in these specimens represent an archaic sequence indicative of Neanderthal's kinship with Denisovans that was subsequently lost in Neanderthals due to replacement by a more modern-human-related sequence.These two individuals from the same cave showed more diversity than seen among sampled Neanderthals from all of Eurasia, and were as different as modern-day humans from different continents.In the same second 2010 paper, the authors reported the isolation and sequencing of nuclear DNA from the Denisova finger bone.Through such interbreeding, 17% of the Denisova genome represents DNA from the local Neanderthal population, while evidence was also found of a contribution to the nuclear genome from an ancient hominin lineage yet to be identified, Tests comparing the Denisova hominin genome with those of six modern humans – a ǃKung from South Africa, a Nigerian, a Frenchman, a Papua New Guinean, a Bougainville Islander and a Han Chinese – showed that between 4% and 6% of the genome of Melanesians (represented by the Papua New Guinean and Bougainville Islander) derives from a Denisovan population; a later study puts the amount at 1.11% (with an additional contribution from some different and yet unknown ancestor).This DNA was possibly introduced during the early migration to Melanesia.An initial morphological characterization of the toe bone led to the suggestion that it may have belonged to a Neanderthal-Denisovan hybrid individual, although a critic suggested that the morphology was inconclusive. Some older findings may or may not belong to the Denisovan line.
It is named after Denis, a Russian hermit who lived there in the 18th century.
Little is known of the precise anatomical features of the Denisovans, since the only physical remains discovered thus far are the finger bone, two teeth from which genetic material has been gathered, and a toe bone.
The single finger bone is unusually broad and robust, well outside the variation seen in modern people.
The cave was originally explored in the 1970s by Russian paleontologist Nikolai Ovodov, who was looking for remains of canids.
In 2008, Michael Shunkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences and other Russian archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Novosibirsk investigated the cave.
In contrast, the difference between chimpanzees and modern humans is approximately 1,462 mt DNA base pairs.