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Sensational discovery of a 250,000 year old milk tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia

By Svetlana Skarbo, Anna Liesowska
01 October 2020

Another tooth aged over 170,000 years, and two fragments of bones found too.

Two teeth - a milk (TOP LEFT) and a molar (BOTTOM LEFT) - were both found within the layer 22, with the milky tooth discovered at its bottom which would date it to approximately 250,000 years, and the molar found at the top of the layer, with the approximate dating from 170,000 to 190,000 years. Picture: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

This summer brought the richest harvest of anthropological discoveries to archeologists working at the world-famous Denisova Cave in the south of Siberia.

The team of Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography worked in the lowest - the oldest - layers of culture-containing soil in the southern gallery of the cave, dating to 300,000 years ago. 

Two teeth - a milk and a molar - were both found within that layer, with the milk tooth discovered at its bottom which would date it to approximately 250,000 years, and the molar found at the top of the layer, with the approximate dating from 170,000 to 190,000 years. 

Both teeth belonged to Denisovans - an extinct group of ancient human, that lived across Asia during Lower and Middle Paleolithic times, said head of the Denisova Cave expedition Mikhail Shunkov. 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 
This summer works at the Denisova Cave in the south of Siberia were carried in its southern gallery on the lowest culture-containing layer dating back to 300,000 years. Picture: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Vera Salnitskaya/The Siberian Times

It was inside the Denisova Cave in 2008 that Siberian scientists discovered a tiny finger bone fragment of an 'X woman', a juvenile female believed to have lived around 41,000 years ago. 

Analysis showed she was genetically distinct from thick-browed Neanderthals and modern humans. 

The recent addition to the human family tree was christened Denisovan. 

The outstanding finds have definitively confirmed the earlier theory that the Denisovans migrated from the Middle East about 300,000 years old, Mikhail Shunkov said.

Two fragments of the bones were also unearthed this summer in layers 14 and 13, which means they are aged 130 and 120,000 years. 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 


Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 
The treasure trove of the past: the world's oldest stone bracelet, the cave lion figurine, the ancient needle, the crayon, the mammoth bone tiara were discovered by Siberian archeologists inside the Denisova Cave. Pictures: Alexander Fedorchenko, The Siberian Times


Since remains of the Neanderthal people were found in these layers earlier, further analyses is needed to determine is the bones belonged to them or to the Denisovans.

The Denisova Cave lies at the border of the Altai region and the Altai Republic in the south of Western Siberia. 

Locals call it Ayu Tash, which means the Bear Rock. 

The world famous cave first caught attention of Soviet scientists in 1970s, when they found paleo-archeological remains which led to further research. 

It is relatively small with the floor area of about 270m2. 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia 

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia

Sensational find of a 250,000 year old milky tooth found inside the Denisova Cave in Siberia
The Denisova Cave in is the south of Siberia, in the foothill of the Altai mountains; professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Denisova Cave expedition. Pictures: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, The Siberian Times


It has three galleries - the cosy Central Chamber with high, arched ceiling and a hole that lets in natural light, the South Gallery and the East Gallery

Some 3,000 generations back this hole must have been a great chimney for our ancestors. 

The cave is nicely positioned above river Anuy, which must have given all three hominids - the Neanderthals, the Denisovans and the Homo Sapiens - some stunning sunset views over the past 120,000 years. 

Now the site now has a permanent research camp, a pride of Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.

Another sensational discovery brought the world’s attention to the Denisova Cave in August 2018, when the research showed that early humans of different ancestry met, had sex and had children. 

Analyses of a 90,000 years old bone fragment found in the Denisova cave in 2012 - which likely belonged to a teenage girl- showed that she had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. 

This is the first known hybrid of these groups. 

The discovery was dubbed the eureka and the holy-grail moment evolution researchers have been hoping for years.

Comments (4)

The Denisova Cave is slowly revealing its treasures. These are indeed exciting findings. Let's hope that they may yield DNA and allow us to learn more about the relationship between Modern Humans, Denisovans, and Neandertals.
Excellent photographs. Thanks
Austin Whittall, Florida, Argentina
26/10/2020 02:14
0
0
High quality pictures.
Thank you, Siberian Times.
David B. Benson, United States
03/10/2020 03:39
1
0

Congratulations and kudos to Professor Shunkov for his teams outstanding and incredible work.
Denisova Cave has become the "entryway" to our past.

Incredible - Three hominid species in the same Cave! Astounding.

Continued success professor and thank you for your efforts!
Jeff Bishop, Chesterbrook, PA USA
03/10/2020 01:38
4
0
Thank you Siberian Times for this interestingly rich article with exquisite captions of highest quality and precision. Congratulations to professor Shunkov and the team of anthropological archeologists for their amazing discoveries.

Wow this is an incredible,somewhat mind blowing discovery; can understand that it's dubbed the eureka and holy grail moment proving that evolution did and will always exist for the future centuries...

Between the Neanderthal, Denisovans, hybrid civilisations and all the Chalcolithic cultures existing in prehistoric Siberia, is there the possibility of an entire ancient civilisation underneath Siberia, as the ancient Aztec civilisation under Mexico?
Anonymous, Switzerland
02/10/2020 02:41
11
1
1

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