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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Denisovan DNA in Pacific Islanders

Friday, March 18, 2016

Melanesian Denisovan DNA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON—A new genetic study of Melanesians shows that they retain traces of archaic DNA inherited from both Neanderthals and Denisovans, a recently discovered extinct human species. Known from sparse skeletal remains found in Siberia's Denisova Cave, the Denisovans probably interbred with modern humans over a relatively short time span. “Denisovans are the only species of archaic humans about whom we know less from fossil evidence and more from where their genes show up in modern humans,” University of Washington evolutionary geneticist Joshua Akey said in a press release. He and his colleagues have shown that Denisovan genes make up between two to four percent of a native Melanesian’s DNA. Thus far, Denisovan DNA has only been detected in the genomes of people from Oceania. To read more about our extinct relatives, go to "Denisovan DNA."

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