142070879_52a83d8991_b In a discovery that is sure to broaden the scope of modern insults, researchers — including UC Berkeley’s Montgomery Slatkin — have found a finger bone in a Siberian cave which suggests that there were three distinct human species in existence 40,000 years ago.

This third species — called the “Denisovans” — was likely prevalent throughout much of Eurasia, though researchers admit that little is known about them archeologically or morphologically. Recently concluded genetic analysis on the bone has shown that the Denisovans may have contributed up to 6 percent of the modern human genome among certain populations, one researcher claiming that:

“In combination with the Neanderthal genome sequence, the Denisovan genome suggests a complex picture of genetic interactions between our ancestors and different ancient hominin groups.”

Hmm. “Genetic interactions.” That’s quite the euphemism. Anthropological research is ongoing, but in the mean time, the next time you are looking to insult someone’s primitive nature, you can forgo the now-trite “neanderthal” in favor of the more current “denisovan.”

Image Source: erix! under Creative Commons
Genome of Extinct Siberian Cave-dweller Linked to Modern-day Humans [NSF]

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