Menu

Girl Had a Denisovan Dad and Neanderthal Mom

Genetic analysis of a bone fragment reveals the girl’s mixed ancestry 90,000 years ago. 

Aug 22, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

ABOVE: The East Chamber of Denisova Cave, Russia
IAET SB RAS, SERGEI ZELENSKY

A13-year-old girl, called Denisova 11, who died approximately 90,000 years ago had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father, according to a study published today (August 22) in Nature. Neanderthals and Denisovans are closely related, but distinct groups of ancient humans. 

“We knew from previous studies that Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children together,” coauthor Viviane Slon, a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, tells the BBC. “But I never thought we would be so lucky as to find an actual offspring of the two groups.” 

While Neanderthals lived in the western part of Eurasia and Denisovans in the eastern region, the two were known to have mingled—but there was no first-generation sample found yet. 

A view of the valley from above the Denisova Cave archaeological site, Russia
BENCE VIOLA, MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR EVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGY

The researchers sequenced the girl’s genome from a 2.5-cm-wide bone fragment originally found in 2012 within the Denisova cave—the only place where evidence of Denisovans has been found—of the Altai Mountains in Russia. The genetic analysis revealed her Denisovan father had a distant Neanderthal ancestor.

“Finding remains from a first generation admixed individual should be a very small probability occurrence, unless perhaps interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans was not uncommon at a small number of locations, such as the Denisova cave, where the groups’ ranges overlapped,” Sharon Browning, a population geneticist at the University of Washington who was not affiliated with this study, tells The Guardian.

“It’s a really clear-cut case,” Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, tells Nature. “I think it’s going to go into the textbooks right away.”

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Enabling Genomics-Guided Precision Medicine

Enabling Genomics-Guided Precision Medicine

Download this eBook from Qiagen to learn more about the promise of precision medicine and how QCITM Interpret can help deliver better care with better knowledge.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.

Immunophenotypic Analysis of Human Blood Leukocyte Subsets

Immunophenotypic Analysis of Human Blood Leukocyte Subsets

Download this application note from ACEA Biosciences, Inc., to find out how to perform an immunophenotypic analysis of a human blood sample utilizing 13 fluorescent markers using a compact benchtop flow cytometer equipped with 3 lasers!