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Neanderthal-like ancestors had fingers like ours, finds study co-authored by U of T expert: CBC News

DNA from a bone at the base of the pinky finger of a young girl was originally used to identify Denisovans (© MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Little is known about the Denisovans, an ancient human species related to Neanderthals, but a new study co-authored by the University of Toronto’s Bence Viola is helping anthropologists put a finger on the mysterious hominins’ place in human evolution.

Viola, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology, and researchers from France and Russia used a long-lost piece of Denisovan fossil to digitally reconstruct the species’ finger. The result was indistinguishable from modern humans’ slender fingers, and very different from the blunt, stubby digits of the Neanderthals, CBC News reported.

"Until now, all we knew was how their teeth looked," Viola told CBC News, referring to the Denisovans’ massive molars. “All these little pieces allow us to build a picture of who the Denisovans were.”

The finding suggests that the Denisovans, who were identified less than a decade ago, may have been more similar to humans than previously postulated.

Read the CBC News story here


September 06, 2019