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Early humans : A cave for all

until a few years ago someone didn't even know of their existence. Now researchers bring step by step the history of the Denisova people to the light. Apparently, you have not lived at the same time as the Neanderthals in Siberia, both species used on tens of thousands of years of the same cave. You might have inhabited this property, even over a period of almost 150,000 years ago, long before modern humans reached the area. This is the conclusion of two international research teams in the mountains according to their analysis of sediments from the Denisova cave in the Altai. They report their results in the journal "Nature".

place of the mixing of two people types

The Denisova cave has been known worldwide as a scientist of the Max-Planck-Institute for evolutionary anthropology (EVA) in Leipzig in 2010, the DNA of a finger bone is examined, the had been found in the cave in the South of Siberia. The results were a previously unknown species of human close that they named due to the site Denisova-human. Later, more bones and teeth that were both Denisovanern as well as of Neanderthals were found there.

And in the summer of 2018, the proof that it was a mongrel child of the two lines managed on the basis of the bone analysis of a girl. Neanderthals and Denisovaner had to have had Sex. It was the first direct evidence for the mixing of two different species of mankind. The question, however, when the two species lived in the cave, had so far not answer.

sediments tell the history of the cave

to find an answer, and analysed the two teams of researchers, the layers of sediment that had formed over many millennia at the bottom of the cave. Especially the upper, and therefore younger layers contain bone-spikes, and pierced animal teeth, stone age people of our own species, Homo sapiens, probably as jewelry had made.

Although scientists had studied the six-foot-thick layers since 1977, it has not been possible so far to determine their age exactly. One reason for this is that the radio carbon method (C14), with an age of about 50,000 years, their limit of detection. The older layers in the cave can not be dated.

Zenobia Jacobs from the Australian University of Wollongong and her colleagues tried it with a different method. They examined the sediment layers of the Denisova cave with the "Optically-Stimulated luminescence Dating". Thus, the researchers can determine when and in the sediments of existing quartz grains that were exposed to last Time the sun's light, before they were washed, for example, from rain or melt water in the cave and there deposited.

their findings suggest that the denisovans may have lived from about 300,000 years ago to about 55,000 years in the cave, the Neanderthal, however, in a period before 200,000 to 100,000 years ago.

The Denisovaner came about 195.000 years

However, such measurements can be misleading, explains the archaeologist Robin Dennell of the University of Exeter in an accompanying comment. So animals can be dug in the cave, and found objects in other layers have loaded. Similar rearrangements can also happen when Frost expands the layers and the thawing shrink.

These aspects of the Team, Katerina Douka, from the Max-Planck-Institute for mankind has tried to take account of history in Jena. They calculated the age of the finds using a statistical model, in the next to the C14 and the luminescence method as well as genetic analyses into account. Thus, for example, from Differences in the genome of different individuals to estimate how many generations were between them.

Also those disturbances of the layers by burrowing animals, or weather can be in the model. Thus, researchers can see much more reliable than in the past, when the different species appeared in the cave.

According to your data, the first Denisovaner inhabited the cave in the Altai mountains in front of about 195.000 years. The last traces of these people in line are, however, of the 52,000 up of 76,000 years old. Several Neanderthal fossils dated from the group of Douka in a time of 140,000 to 80,000 years. The researchers found but also Neanderthal genome in an almost 190,000-year-old layer.

"The General picture is now clear,"

These results suggest that both human species that lived nearly 150,000 years, at the same time in the Region, also met and mingled. To fit this time horizon, Denny," the half-breed girl with a Neanderthal and Denisova "-father very well, because it apparently lived approximately 100,000 years ago in the Denisova cave. At a time, to inhabited the to the new results, both of the human species the cave. Whether Denisovaner and Neanderthals divided the cave, but ever, can not with certainty say.

Similar to the finds of Bone points and pieces of jewelry from animal to say, the team of researchers analyzed in order Douka share. You are about 45,000 years old. The scientists assume that they were made by denisovans, perhaps the modern man was also involved. He reached the area, probably in front of about 43,000 to 47,000 years ago and mixed with Neanderthals than with denisovans.

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paleoanthropology Mixed people child

Roland Knauer

in Spite of the existing uncertainties in Dating, the Robin Dennell in his comment indicates, it is now possible for the first time, to draw a timeline of the Denisova cave, and to get an idea of when the various inhabitants they used. Given the complexity of the findings and the methods used is the "General picture was now clear".

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