Mysterious ancient human found in Tibet for first time

Mysterious ancient human found in Tibet for first time

The mouth of Baishiya Karst Cave nestles near the base of a towering crag at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Strands of colorful prayer flags crisscross the pale face of the hollow, a holy location where Tibetans have long retreated to pray and heal from sickness. Within the cave’s cool confines in 1980, a

The mouth of Baishiya Karst Cave nestles near the base of a towering crag at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Strands of colorful prayer flags crisscross the pale face of the hollow, a holy location where Tibetans have long retreated to pray and heal from sickness. Within the cave’s cool confines in 1980, a local monk happened on something unexpected: a jaw with two huge teeth that, while human, was definitely not like that of humans today.A study published today in Nature reveals just how much this ancient jaw has to say. A detailed analysis of its physical features as well as proteins extracted from the fossil suggest that the mandible, dated to 160,000 years ago, comes from the enigmatic human population known as the Denisovans—a sister group to the Neanderthals previously identified from scant remains found in a single cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains.“I just couldn’t believe that at the moment [my colleagues] told me,” says study co-author Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University, China. “I was really excited.”Human Origins 101 The story of human evolution began about 7 million years ago, when the lineages that lead to Homo sapiens and chimpanzees separated. Learn about the over 20 early human species that belong in our family tree and how the natural selection of certain physical and behavioral traits defined what it means to be human.

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