Sediment DNA Reveals a 300,000-Year Timeline of Ancient and Modern Humans Living in Siberia
Elena Zavala, Matthias Meyer, Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts, and Zenobia Jacobs: In the foothills of the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia lies Denisova Cave. It is the only site in the world known to have been inhabited by the eponymous Denisovans and their close relatives the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) — which overlapped at times — as well as by some of the earliest modern humans (Homo sapiens) to have dispersed into northern Asia. Our new study pieces together the history of this site over the past 300,000 years from fragments of ancient DNA that survived in the cave sediments. Our findings reveal multiple turnovers of archaic and modern humans during this period, as well as major changes in the diversity of other animals.