Tiny fossil tells big tale

Scientists use a single finger bone from ancient, humanlike Denisovans to study their connection to modern people and Neandertals

By Stephen Ornes, 11:00 AM September 21, 2012

Part of a finger bone and a couple of teeth are the only remains of an ancient humanlike population known as Denisovans. But these few fossils, found in a cave in Siberia, have a story to tell.

In August, scientists announced they used the tiny finger fragment — which once belonged to a young female — to identify all of the Denisovan genes. The researchers compared genes within the fossil with genes from 11 living people of different ethnic backgrounds. By noting which genes are similar a...

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