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Analysis of 30,000-year old fossil yields surprising results


Narrator:            This is Science Today. A 30,000-year old fossil of a finger bone has been found to belong to a previously unknown group of human relatives. Ed Green, an assistant professor of biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, played a lead role in the analysis of the genome sequence data.

Ed Green:            What we have done is to generate a complete genome sequence from DNA extracted from a small tip of a finger bone that came out of a cave in Alpine mountains in Siberia. And what we've learned from this is that this finger bone belonged to a member of a population that's distinct from the Neanderthals, who were around at that time, and distinct from modern humans. Now there's this extra population there that we call Denisovans. It complicates and makes more interesting our own genetic historical story.

Narrator:            Green says it makes scientists wonder about even more populations that remain to be discovered. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.