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Scientists Map An Extinct Denisovan Girl's Genome

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Denisova Cave excavation in the Altai Mountains (Photo: Max Planck Institute)

Meet the Denisovans. They're a cave dwelling family who lived some 80,000 years ago.

Scientists have for the first time mapped out the complete genetic fingerprint of these ancient human ancestors. An international team of scientists did it using just a fragment of a girl's finger bone that turned up in a remote Siberian cave.

"The Denisova Cave is in a kind of steep valley," said Harvard Medical School Professor David Reich. "The drive up from Novisibirsk involves driving across the Siberian steppe and then going up into the large mountain range right in the middle of Asia."

So can you name that mountain range near the borders of Kazakhstan and Mongolia that was home to the Denisovans?

The answer is the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia, East Central Asia.

Reich was part of the international scientific team that analyzed the young girl's tiny finger bone in order to map the DNA fingerprint of these distant human ancestors. The research findings are published in the journal Science.

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