High quality Denisovan genome sheds light on human evolution: Sequencing our extinct relatives let us know how we differ from chimps.
The discovery that a second branch of the human family shared Asia with our ancestors and the Neanderthals was a real shock, but the Denisovans have continued to surprise many. All we have of them is a bit of a finger and some molars, but those few fragments have yielded a wealth of DNA, and with it the knowledge that the Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of some modern human populations. Now, with the help of a new approach to sequencing ancient DNA, we actually know more about the Denisovans’ genome than we do about Neanderthals’. In the process, we’ve discovered some of the changes that are distinct to modern humans.