A remote location found in the foothills of the Altai Mountains represents a pivotal landmark in the history of the human evolution. In the span of more than 300,000 countless hominins called the Denisova Cave home.
Among the species of hominins that have been found we can count the Denisovans and the Neanderthals. Genetic tests have revealed sings if interbreeding between the two species and with other species that were anatomically superior (including ancestors of the modern humans). A DNA sample recovered from a child that had a Denisovan father and Neanderthal mother reinforces theories which claim that interbreeding was quite common.
A vast selection of genetic information about the Denisovans and Neanderthals is known but many questions remain when it comes to the history an evolution of both species. The main dilemma is posed by the events that took place in the Denisova Cave. Little is known about the species that lived in the caves as centuries passed, even less when we are looking after the various human groups that can be found and the differences between them.
Several skeletal remains that have been recovered are older than 50,000 years according to carbon-14 dating tests. Since this is close to maximum limit of the test some of the remains could be older. A high area of the surface within the cave has been contaminated by the consequences of geological processes and the presence of burrowing animals.
A team of researchers employed thermoluminescence in order to determine the how old were some of the rock samples that could be found inside the cave. The process revealed that Denisovans may have lived inside the cave for at least 200,000 years while the presence of Neanderthals dates back to 190,000 years. It is likely that older fossils could be found at some point in the future. Another team has explored the relationships between several types of hominins.
The results have been published in peer-reviewed journals.