A truly startling discovery at a cave in Croatia could totally change our search for remnants of our ancestors.
Researchers have just discovered something absolutely remarkable deep within a cave in Croatia, a finding that could help us discover more clues about the history of humankind. Scientists found genetic material in sediment samples collected from archeological sites that have been confirmed to be from extinct humans.
It’s a remarkable find because it was discovered in the absence of skeletal remains. That’s a big deal because it’s hard to find the remains of ancient humans, so these new findings could help us learn about extinct humans who only left artefacts behind.
The study, published in the journal Science, represents a scientific breakthrough that would allow scientists in the future to determine what species of hominid occupied a cave and other information about them, even when there are no skeletal remains.
“While there are numerous prehistoric sites in Europe and Asia that contain tools and other human-made artefacts, skeletal remains of ancient humans are scarce,” reads the statement from Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. “Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have therefore looked into new ways to get hold of ancient human DNA. From sediment samples collected at seven archaeological sites, the researchers “fished out” tiny DNA fragments that had once belonged to a variety of mammals, including our extinct human relatives. They retrieved DNA from Neandertals in cave sediments of four archaeological sites, also in layers where no hominin skeletal remains have been discovered. In addition, they found Denisovan DNA in sediments from Denisova Cave in Russia. These new developments now enable researchers to uncover the genetic affiliations of the former inhabitants of many archaeological sites which do not yield human remains.”