Scientists Have Designed Faces of Denisovans Using DNA Methylation

by Ernest Thomas
Scientists Have Designed Faces of Denisovans Using DNA Methylation

Scientists have provided the first-ever picture of our extinct relatives, the Denisovans. All of us know that in ancient times, Denisovans resided with Neanderthals, and both species interbred at some point. Around ten years ago, scientists excavated Denisova Cave located in southern Siberia. At the time, they had found fossils of an ancient human community, Denisovans. Currently, we have very few clues regarding the lives of the Denisovans – a lower jaw, a pinky bone, and three teeth. The latest research provides a physical re-creation of the ancient humans relying on a genetic proof. Scientists from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, have rebuilt the structure of the Denisovan skeleton.

Besides, Israeli scientists have designed a new technique, DNA methylation, which uses ancient DNA for recreation of fossils. During the research, they have withdrawn DNA samples from the little finger of a woman. Scientists surmise the lady survived between 74-82,000 years ago. Two professors from the Hebrew University have led the study, David Gokhman, and Liran Carmel. As per prof. Carmel, Denisovans mostly looked like Neanderthals, but in some aspects, they often seem like us. Besides, in various traits, they reveal uniqueness. Now, it is clear that Denisovans not only appeared like Neanderthals; but they also shared attributes with humans.

The study highlights Denisovans had a projecting, broad face along with wide lips and a remarkably weak or no chin. Carmel noted it is a complex process to start from a DNA sequence and stop it with a structural profile. In contrast, the team has redesigned the look of the Denisovans after three years of exploring the trends of chemical changes in their DNA. They have compared these patterns to those of the Neanderthals’ DNA, and modern humans. All in all, researchers have found 56 structural aspects in which Denisovans differ from Neanderthals or modern man. Even more, the skull has 34 different features. In the future, the scientists hope their DNA methylation technique can assist rebuild features and solve mysteries that cannot be cleared by analyzing fossils. The team has published their finding in the journal Cell Press.

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