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Modern humans had intimacy with the Denisovans, says study

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A new study has revealed that the modern day humans had intimacy with the Denisovans too. According to the study, the modern humans or the Homo sapiens had sex with the Denisovans. Previous studies had revealed that the modern humans spent a lot of time with their ancient counterparts, the Neanderthal and also both the species had interbred with each other.

But, the latest study suggests that the Homo sapiens got time to become intimate with the Denisovan also. According to the scientists, the Homo sapiens also produced babies with Denisovans, at least twice in the history. Scientists are, till now, not sure about whether Denisovans are species or subspecies of human in the genus Homo. In 2010, the scientists announced that they have got hold of a finger bone fragment of a juvenile female in the Denisova cave in Russia’s Siberia, which was neither from Homo sapiens nor from Neanderthals. They named the species the Denisovans.

They found out that female Denisovan lived about 41,000 years ago in the same cave that was inhabited by the Neanderthals as well as modern humans. But the DNA analysis of the bone fragments revealed that the Denisovans were genetically different from Neanderthals and modern humans. Although it was known that the Homo sapiens interbred with the Neanderthals but scientists never thought that the Denisovans would have interbred with the modern humans.

The latest study found out two distinct episodes of Denisovan genetic intermixing, or admixing, between the Denisovans and the Homo sapiens. For the research, a group of scientists from the University of Washington, Seattle compared the whole genome sequences of the modern humans with the Denisovans. Under modern humans, they selected the population from present-day East Asia and Oceania, as these people bear some Denisovan genes.

Lead author of the study, Sharon Browning of the University of Washington said that they already knew that the Oceanic individuals, mainly the Papuan ones, have a significant amount, approximately 5 percent, of Denisovan ancestry. Also, other Asian parts got individuals with Denisovan ancestry due to the migration from Oceania. But in his new study with East Asians, Browning found out the second set of Denisovan ancestry that was not found in the South Asians and Papuans. Browning said, “This Denisovan ancestry in East Asians seems to be something they acquired themselves.”

The study found out that the modern East Asians were much closer to the Denisovans as compared to the Papuan individuals. The latest study was published in the journal Cell.

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