From a single fingerbone, scientists at Max Planck Institute were able to determine the complete genome of a surprising group of humans in Siberia that have been named the Denisovans. According to Scientific American on August 30 (reprinted by Nature News), the individual’s DNA can reveal traits of the entire population. The current interpretation is that the Denisovans were an isolated population group in Asia with low genetic diversity, living 74,000 to 82,000 years ago (earlier estimates were half that, about 30,000 to 50,000 years ago), but that “the modern human line diverged from what would become the Denisovan line as long as 700,000 years ago—but possibly as recently as 170,000 years ago.” Writer Katharine Harmon speculated that “the population on the whole seems to have been very small for hundreds of thousands of years, with relatively little genetic diversity throughout their history.”
Enough commonality was found with modern humans – about 6% – that it shows the population must have interbred with them and with Neanderthals, with whom they share more commonality than with moderns. As for the owner of the fingerbone, analysis is “consistent with” dark hair and skin of a female. Charles Q. Choi at Live Science took that as a cue to proclaim, “Genome of Mysterious Extinct Human Reveals Brown-Eyed Girl.” Perhaps they will name her Denise.
That’s how the evolutionists are re-framing this find within their standard timeline. It should be remembered, however, that the Denisovan bones (a finger and two molars in a cave in Siberia) came as a complete surprise to Svante Pääbo, his team at the Max Planck Institute, and to anthropologists worldwide. John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the genome study, called Denisova a “big surprise.” Early genetic indications of interbreeding with modern humans were doubted by some, but the newly published genome appears to remove all doubt. That being the case, it is appropriate to consider Denisovans, Neanderthals and modern humans as a single interfertile species. Consider, by comparison, the diversity in dogs, all of which are members of a single species, Canis familiaris….
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