24 Dec 2010

Previously unknown type of pre-human discovered

10:30 am on 24 December 2010

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown member of the human family.

Analysis of a 30,000-year-old fingerbone and tooth discovered in a Siberian cave shows they belonged to a young girl who was neither a modern human nor a Neanderthal.

Instead she belonged to a now extinct genetic group that scientists have named Denisovans, after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found.

The study published in the journal Nature shows Denisovans co-existed with Neanderthals and interbred with them about 50,000 years ago.