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[Xinhua]Ancient Denisovan DNA found in Chinese karst cave


LANZHOU, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have made significant progress in their research into Denisovans, an extinct hominin group that lived around 160,000 years ago.

The study revealed the presence of Denisovan mitochondrial DNA in late Middle Pleistocene sediments deposited 100,000 and 60,000 years ago, taken from the Baishiya Karst Cave on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The study, published in the journal Science on Friday, was led by an archaeological team from China's Lanzhou University and was jointly completed by universities and research institutions in China, Germany, Australia and the United States.

The finding further extends the period that Denisovans occupied the cave and provides evidence that they had a long-term presence on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Zhang Dongju, a member of the archaeological team.

The long-term Denisovan occupation of the Baishiya Karst Cave suggests they may have adapted to life at high altitudes and may have contributed such adaptations to modern humans on the plateau, according to the study.

The extinct hominin group was initially identified from a genome sequence detected in a phalanx fragment found at Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia.

The Baishiya Karst Cave is located in Ganjia Township, Xiahe County, northwest China's Gansu Province. The Lanzhou University archaeological team made the first formal excavation of the site in 2018.

In 2019, a Denisovan jaw fragment was evacuated in Xiahe. It was the first Denisovan fossil discovered outside the Altai Mountains. Researchers used ancient protein analysis to identify the fossil and concluded that the mandible was at least 160,000 years old. End item