A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Possible Denisovan Tooth Discovered in Laos
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, ILLINOIS—A molar thought to have belonged to a Denisovan girl between the ages of four and eight at the time of her death has been discovered by an international team of researchers in a cave in the Annamite Mountains in Laos, according to a Gizmodo report. The cave is only the third location where Denisovan remains have been found, and the first in southeast Asia. Traces of Denisovan DNA have been found in living populations in southeast Asia, however. Sediments around the tooth have been dated to between 164,000 and 131,000 years ago. Team member Clément Zanolli of the University of Bordeaux explained that the child’s molar resembles the teeth in a partial Denisovan mandible discovered in a cave on the Tibetan Plateau, and has features that distinguish it from other Homo species that lived in southeast Asia at the time. If the tooth belonged to a Neanderthal, the researchers added, it would be the “southeastern-most” Neanderthal fossil ever found. The discovery shows that Denisovans were widespread and able to adapt to a wide range of environments, commented team leader Laura Shackelford of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Nature Communications. For more on the Denisovan mandible uncovered on the Tibetan Plateau, go to "Denisovans at Altitude," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2019.
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