Home Sciences A tooth rescues the story of a Denisovan girl in Laos

A tooth rescues the story of a Denisovan girl in Laos


In a hidden limestone cave hidden in the heart of the Annamite Range, in Southeast Asia, an international team of researchers has discovered a true prehistoric treasure. Hidden under a meter of earth, scientists have discovered a surprisingly well-preserved tooth. His study has made it possible to rescue the history of a denisovan girl who lived a few years ago 164,000 and 131,000 years ago in the mountains of Laos. And shed light on the journey of the Denisovans; that mysterious species of hominids of which, until now, only a handful of fossil remains have been discovered.

The discoveryannounced this Tuesday in the scientific journal ‘Nature Communications’, focuses mainly on the tooth found in the Tam Ngu Hao site. Analysis of this fossil remains reveals, for example, that belonged to a young hominid. probably to a woman. As explained by the team of paleontologists who have led their study, everything indicates that this tooth belonged to a girl she had between 3.5 and 8.5 years at the time of his death. The morphology of the bone suggests that it could be the first or second molar of a lower jaw. And their analysis, compared to other hominid teeth, suggests that most likely belonged to a Denisovan. Although it cannot be ruled out that it was from a Neanderthal.

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Little else is known about the identity of this prehistoric girl. But thanks to the study of her tooth, the researchers argue that the region where the little girl lived could be one of the hominid gateways to Southeast Asia. The finding of this Denisovan specimen in Laos would also suggest that this mysterious hominin species may have spread across the Asian continent. “This discovery corroborates that this region was a diversity hotspot for the genus ‘Homo’, given that the presence of at least five species during the middle to late Pleistocene: H. erectus, Denisovans and Neanderthals, H. floresiensis, H. luzonensis and H. sapiens”, the researchers recall in the article published this Tuesday.

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The Mystery of the Denisovans

The history of the Denisovans is one of those mysteries that has intrigued the scientific community for years. The first proof of existence of this species was found in 2010, after the genetic analysis of some remains found in Denisova caves, in Siberia. Little is known about these mysterious individuals. Everything indicates that this species appeared a million years and that they became extinct about 50,000 years ago. On their way, the Denisovans crossed paths with other prehistoric hominins that swarmed the planet at the time. They even had ‘mitxa’ offspring. With both Neanderthals and modern humans.

According to several genomic studies carried out to date, the Denisovans stood out for their great dental arch Y his very wide skull. In some ways, experts say, they resembled Neanderthals. For example, for your sloping forehead, long face, and wide pelvis. Everything else, from what it looks like to its journey around the globe, remains shrouded in mystery.

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