Ancient Pinkie Reveals Your New Relatives

DNA helps decode history of Denisovans

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 23, 2010 1:12 PM CST

(Newser) – A 30,000-year-old finger is pointing the way to a population of humans experts never knew existed. The pinkie bone, discovered in southern Siberia in what's known as the Desinova Cave, contains DNA that scientists used to sequence the entire genome of the young girl it belonged to, NPR reports.

It shows the population of so-called Denisovans were more like Neanderthals than modern humans. The genome also reveals a relatively close relationship with today’s people of New Guinea, suggesting the Denisovans lived all over the world.

This 2005 photo provided by the journal Nature shows participants in an archaeological conference inside of Denisova cave in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, where the pinkie was found.
This 2005 photo provided by the journal Nature shows participants in an archaeological conference inside of Denisova cave in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, where the pinkie was found.   (AP Photo/Nature, Johannes Krause)
This undated photo provided by the journal Nature shows a view from a rock above Denisova cave to the excavation field camp in in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, Russia.
This undated photo provided by the journal Nature shows a view from a rock above Denisova cave to the excavation field camp in in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, Russia.   (AP Photo/Nature, Johannes Krause)
This undated photo provided by the journal Nature shows Denisova cave in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, where the pinkie was found.
This undated photo provided by the journal Nature shows Denisova cave in Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, where the pinkie was found.   (AP Photo/Nature, Johannes Krause)
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