Fossils show mysterious human species lived 30,000 years ago

December 23rd, 2010 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 23 (IANS) A mysterious new species of the human beings which lived alongside our ancestors 30,000 years ago has been discovered by the scientists.

The cavemen, called Denisovans, were identified by DNA taken from a tooth and a finger bone found in a cave in Siberia. The bone belonged to a young girl nicknamed the X-woman.

They walked the Earth during the last Ice Age when modern humans were developing sophisticated stone tools, jewellery and art, the Journal Nature reports.

The finding means there were at least three distinct members of the human family tree alive at that time - modern humans, Denisovans and Neanderthals, according to the Daily Mail.

Provisional tests published earlier this year suggested that X-woman belonged to an entirely new species. But a full DNA analysis has confirmed her place on the increasingly muddled human family tree.

The finding follows the controversial discovery of another ‘new’ species of the three-foot-tall human called Hobbit in an Indonesian island 2004.

The little finger belonged to a girl aged around five to seven and was found in the Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia 2008, alongside ornaments and jewellery.

The Denisovans were physically different from the thickset Neanderthals and modern humans although they also walked upright on two legs.

The tooth resembles much older human ancestors - such as Homo Erectus - which died out a million years ago.

The Denisovans lived at a time when our ancestors, and the Neanderthals, were fishing and hunting, wearing jewellery, painting caves and making animal carvings.

“We don’t know all the reasons, but it is almost miraculous how well-preserved the DNA is,” said Richard Green from the University of California, US.

Green believes one group of early human ancestors left Africa between 300,000 and 400,000 years ago and quickly split up.

One branch evolved into the Neanderthals who spread into Europe, while the other moved east and became Denisovans.

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