Key Facts about Denisovans

July 10, 2024

Denisovans survived and thrived on the high-altitude Tibetan plateau for more than 100,000 years, according to a new study.

About Denisovans:

  • Denisovans are an extinct species of hominid and a close relative to modern humans.
  • They’re a recent addition to the human family tree—scientists first identified Denisovan remains from a cave in Siberia in 2010.
  • They lived across a wide range of areas and conditions, from the cold mountains of Siberia and Tibet to the jungles of Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age. 
  • Time Period: 500,000 to 30,000 years ago
  • DNA evidence suggests Denisovans are related to both Neanderthalsand modern humans, and may have interbred with both.
  • Denisovans share a common ancestor with both modern humans and Neanderthals.
  • This common ancestor, called Homo heidelbergensis, most likely lived in Africa.
  • Denisovans may have had dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes.
  • The Denisovan genome appears to have low genetic diversity, which means their population may never have been very large.