“There’s something over here!” – the scientist shouted and rushed to his colleagues. Everyone looked at him with surprise. “That changes everything we knew before” – he screamed again and pointed at something he found.
Everyone rushed to the room and looked at the bone fragment he was showing. It was smaller than the rest of the bones they had found in that cave. “Well, that one doesn’t really look like special…” – everyone hesitated. However, soon they would realize the drastic change that discovery would bring to mankind.
A few years ago, a bone that belonged to a teenage girl was discovered in modern-day Siberia. While this may seem like the start of a crime story, it was far from that. The bone that was found dates back to a thousand years ago, making this teenage girl ancient.
When scientists found this small bone fragment in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, they didn’t think much of it. These people were used to seeing fragments of ancient human beings, and this part of the world was a bit of a haven for that. However, what made this particular fragment so special?
Upon the bone’s discovery, scientists noticed something different with the bone fragment that they had just discovered. They couldn’t quite put their finger on what it was, but they knew that it was different from the rest.
Once calling it a day, the scientists headed back to their laboratories. They couldn’t stop thinking about the special fragment they had unearthed. So they took the bone into the lab to run some tests – what they would eventually find out was mind-boggling, to say the least…
If we go back to 300,000 years ago, a very different kind of lifestyle is bound to welcome us. Back then, the luxuries and the technologies we have now weren’t available to our ancient ancestors. Not only that, but humans, as we know ourselves to be, didn’t even exist yet.
While living without our smartphones or the internet seems like a hassle, this wasn’t the case for our ancient ancestors. For them, they had everything they ever needed – they hunted, they made their own dwellings, and they survived. These were all they knew how to do.
Back then, there were various different species that roamed the earth. There were hominin, australopithecines, neanderthals, and more. In layman’s terms, these are the groups of people that we call “cavemen.”
While it may sound a bit rude to call our ancient ancestors cavemen, this slightly rings true – they were people who lived in caves. Three hundred thousand years ago, the buildings and the modern houses we know today didn’t exist yet. Not only that, but they didn’t have the proper knowledge of building homes, so the caves became their dwelling places.
As we have mentioned above, humans or homo sapiens didn’t exist 300,000 years ago. So the ancient humans who roamed the earth were very different from us today. Some of them might’ve looked a bit like us, but they didn’t have the same knowledge or skills that we take advantage of today.
However, today’s modern humans also won’t be able to survive in these ancient human’s time. Back then, hunting for food was a necessity and building everything from scratch was essential. While we think we might be modern, sometimes we have to unlearn some of the most basic things to be able to adapt to our ancient ancestor’s lifestyles.
According to scientists and paleontologists, hominins were the earliest ancient creatures to roam the earth. While they looked more like a gorilla than a human being, scientists believe that most of us were probably descendants of hominin. Well, that proves Charles Darwin’s theory, right?
Then again, evolution has caused hominin to develop into various species too. These more developed species include australopithecines and neanderthals, and these are species looked a bit more like us today. Still, they had quite a very different life from us today.
It’s not a secret that our ancient ancestors had quite a simple life. They didn’t have the luxuries or the technologies that we have today – not that that mattered. These people knew what they had to do to survive, and they knew the basics of survival.
Life back then was simple, and our ancient ancestors were more of a nomad. These people traveled far and wide, and some of them mated or interbred with different species along the way. Although, there was a time when some of these ancient humans started disappearing from the planet…
Some paleontologists say that some of the earlier human species disappeared from the planet because they weren’t fit for survival. As time progressed, some of these species didn’t develop enough to survive. It may sound like such a terrifying thought, but many believed it was essential to reach the evolution we have today.
Another thing that scientists believe is that ancient humans interbred so much that their earlier species went extinct. While this is something that’s hard to prove, a lot of paleontologists believe this to be true as well. Although the bone discovery in Siberia might prove this to be correct…
In the Altai Mountains, quite a few bone fragments of a species called Denisovans had already been discovered. Denisovans were archaic humans that spread out across Eurasia during the Middle Paleolithic Period. While they looked pretty similar to modern humans, they, too, went extinct.
Although, it’s still believed that these species often interbred with various other species. Still, no proper scientific evidence has been discovered to back up this claim. So it’s still pretty much a hunch or a theory at that point.
When a group of scientists went to the Altai Mountains, they weren’t really expecting to find much. After all, this part of the world had already been studied and excavated for years and years. So they assumed that they wouldn’t find anything of value or significance.
Still, the scientists working on the Altai Mountains did their best to try and uncover what was left of the area. They worked for days and days, until something of interest came up. It was a bone of what seemed to be a teenage Denisovan – they hit the jackpot!
Just by looking at the bone fragment that they discovered, scientists and paleontologists knew that they had a teenager’s bone in their hands. It was a shocking yet exciting find, and they couldn’t believe that something like this would surface. They celebrated and they were so keen on taking the bone back to the lab.
However, the scientists still needed to see whether there were other bone fragments stuck on the surface. So they kept on working and working for a few more days. When they realized that no other bone would come up, they concluded their excavation and went back to their lab to study their findings.
The special bone was sent to Samantha Brown at the University of Oxford. She was a highly regarded archeologist, and the team knew that she was the best person to study this bone and analyze it for them. So she got to work, but Samantha found an unexpected problem in her data.
So she called on the help of a well-renowned paleontologist named Viviane Slon from the Max Planck Institue of Evolutionary Anthropology. Together, they worked hard to crack the code and see whether this teenage girl was actually Denisovan. What this duo would find out would change the way we see human nature as a whole…
During the first few months of working together, Samantha and Viviane thought that there was something wrong with the data that they have been collecting. They were getting results, but it wasn’t the results that they were expecting. As a matter of fact, it was such a drastic change that they thought they were inputting things wrong.
In the end, they realized that their data were correct, and the results were rare. What they have in their hands is the bone fragment of someone who was half-neanderthal and half-Denisovan. Nobody has ever encountered something like this before, but they have.
By then, they have dubbed the bone fragment as “Denny” in accordance with her species. The scientists believed that she might’ve been around 13 years old when she died, and she was a part of the Denisovan species. However, something was amiss, and scientists found something else.
Denny was apparently half-neanderthal too because her mother had been neanderthal. It was her father who was Denisovan, so this made her half of each. This was a shocking discovery as she was the first human to have actually been recorded as a result of interbreeding.
Scientists all around the world believed that ancient humans had been interbreeding for generations and generations. However, they haven’t had the data to back this claim. Well, the arrival of Denny’s data and DNA is enough proof to support this claim, and it changed the way people see the human race as a whole.
Back then, our nomadic ancestors would interbreed with the people that they meet on their journeys. This might explain how Denny was still a part of the Denisovans even though her mother would have been neanderthal. Scientists claimed that Denny’s mother was just passing through, but she stayed with the Denisovans after her birth.
The discovery by Samantha and Viviane reached the international news, and nobody could believe it. However, the data is all in their study, and it was as real as it can get. Denny was half-neanderthal and half-Denisovan, and she was the first of her kind to ever be recorded.
While this is a backed-up scientific claim, there were still people who refused to believe this. To them, having this kind of genetic make-up didn’t really make sense, so they refused to believe it. However, both Samantha and Viviane are standing their guard and still believe their data to be correct.
Whether you choose to believe this claim or not, Denny’s discovery is still a win for scientists all around the world. Not only will this prove that there was life before us, but this can also prove that there were people out there who were interbreeding with various species. After all, people like Denny were their result.
It goes to show that while our ancient ancestors might’ve been nomadic, they also did so many things that we’re doing in our present age. However, there were still questions surrounding Denny and her location in the Altai Mountains…
Upon the discovery of Denny, scientists couldn’t believe that there were probably more people like her. They kept asking various questions like who and what else is out there? Naturally, these are questions that can only be answered once the proof and the data are recorded.
Today, Denny is still being studied by scientists all around the world. This ancient teenager has grown popular in the scientific world, and people are still fascinated by her. Truthfully, it’s a very fascinating story, and we think you’d be lying if you said it wasn’t.
Denny is just one of the people that resulted in various species’ interbreeding. Many scientists still believe that there may be more out there just like her. Some also believe that there are ancient people out there that are interbred of different species, not just neanderthals and Denisovans.
While this doesn’t sound impossible, it’s a claim that’s pretty hard to prove if you don’t have any proof. So until then, we’ll keep on wondering what Denny and the other’s lives must’ve been like back in their day.