Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A femur with mitochondrial DNA that looks like a Denisovan

I'm sure that title got your attention.

You might recall the unusual DNA found in Siberia from an unknown hominin dubbed "Denisovan."  The mitochondrial DNA turned out to be very different from any other hominin known at the time.  It was almost twice as different from modern humans than any Neandertals that had been sequenced.

Now there's new mitochondrial DNA from a specimen from a cave in Spain, thousands of miles away, but this time, there's enough skeletal remains to give us some clues as to what sort of humans this DNA came from.  The DNA itself resembles the Denisovan DNA more than any other humans, which is kind of remarkable since it comes from a location so remote from the Denisovans.  The bones from the cave show a mix of characteristics found in Neandertals and Homo heidelbergensis.  Could they be more hybrids?  Must be...

For me, since this new sequence is similar to the Denisovan DNA, I would conclude that these humans were descendants of Adam and Eve just like the Neandertals and us.  If this Denisovan-type mtDNA turns out to come from something like H. heidelbergensis, that would confirm yet another species into the human baramin, as I predicted in my first hominid baraminology paper.

Read all about it in today's Nature, but don't get carried away with the odious title of the news article, "Hominin DNA baffles experts."  The only thing mysterious here is where this DNA is coming from.  It's hardly "baffling."

Meyer et al. 2013. A mitochondrial genome sequence of a hominin from Sima de los Huesos. Nature doi:10.1038/nature12788

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