By Tenzin Dharpo
The remains of a Denisovan found in eastern Tibet. Photo- Lanzhou University
DHARAMSHALA, May 2: A jaw bone of a rare ancient human species was discovered in occupied Tibet’s Gansu region by archaeologists sparking fresh debate over where ‘Denisovans’ roamed in their time. Remains of Denisovans, a rare and third kind of human species, separate from Homo-sapiens and Neanderthals, were earlier believed to have lived only in Siberia.
A Buddhist monk in Tibet discovered half a jaw studded with two teeth when he went to meditate in a holy cave in 1980. The jaw later found its way to Chinese archeologists.
After years of study, Jean-Jacques Hublin, from the Max Planck Institute in Germany and a member of a Chinese and European team said on Wednesday that the fossil belonged to a 160,000-year-old Denisovan, a member of a Neanderthal-like humans that disappeared about 50,000 years ago.
The team said that the specimen found on the Tibetan Plateau in Baishiya Karst Cave, Xiahe, Gansu, successfully adapted to high-altitude hypoxic environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens.
The jaw which is said to be at least 160,000 years old, is by a distant, the oldest evidence of humans on the Tibetan plateau. Scientist also say that the genes of Denisovans may have been passed on to the DNA of modern Tibetans.
In 2014, Scientists from Brown University discovered that genes of Tibetans possess a unique trait they carry called EPAS1 that could adapt on harsh and high elevation. Unlike other humans, Tibetans can make do without producing more haemoglobin in their bloods while surviving in harsh conditions.