Oldest-known fossils of mysterious human lineage uncovered in Siberian cave

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Scientists have unearthed the oldest fossils to date of the mysterious human lineage known as the Denisovans. With these 200,000-year-old bones, researchers have also for the first time discovered stone artifacts linked to these extinct relatives of modern humans, a new study finds.

First identified a little more than a decade ago, the Denisovans — an extinct branch of the human family tree — are the closest known relatives of modern humans, along with Neanderthals. Analysis of DNA extracted from Denisovan fossils suggests they might have once been widespread across continental Asia, island Southeast Asia and Oceania, and revealed that at least two distinct groups of Denisovans interbred with ancestors of modern humans.

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