Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Origin Stories: The Denisovans

A replica of the pinky bone fragment found in Denisova cave. Researchers extracted ancient DNA from the fossil and sequenced the genome of a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Photo courtesy of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The existence of the Denisovans was announced in Nature in 2010. This group of archaic humans was first discovered through a tiny fragment of a pinky bone found in Denisova Cave in Siberia. Ancient DNA inside the fossil hid a previously unknown history of humankind. Now new research is uncovering more about the mysterious Denisovans.

In this episode of Origin Stories, Leakey Foundation grantee Dr. Bence Viola tells the story of the Denisovans and shares the most recent new twists to their exciting tale. Dr. Viviane Slon shares her story of an astounding discovery made through ancient DNA from another small shard of bone from Denisova Cave.

Listen here or subscribe to Origin Stories on your favorite podcast app!


Thanks to Bence Viola and Viviane Slon for sharing their work on this episode.

This season of Origin Stories was made possible by support from Dixon Long, Diana McSherry, Jeanne Newman, Camilla Smith, and donors like you!

Credits: Edited by Julia Barton. Produced, hosted, and mixed by Meredith Johnson.



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