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Photos: Looking for Extinct Humans in Ancient Cave Mud

Taking specimens

dna from extinct humans

Paul Kozowyk, a PhD student working under the supervision of Marie Soressi, collecting sediment for genetic analyses at the archaeological site of Les Cottés, France. (Image credit: Marie Soressi)

Paul Kozowyk, a PhD student working under the supervision of Marie Soressi, collecting sediment for genetic analyses at the archaeological site of Les Cottés, France.

Deep history

dna from extinct humans

View of the valley from above the Denisova Cave archaeological site, Russia. (Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

View of the valley from above the Denisova Cave archaeological site, Russia. [Read the full story on the search for human DNA]

More rocks

dna from extinct humans

Stratigraphic profile of the East Chamber in Denisova Cave, Russia, from which sediment samples were collected for genetic analyses. (Image credit: IAET SB RAS / Sergei Zelensky)

Stratigraphic profile of the East Chamber in Denisova Cave, Russia, from which sediment samples were collected for genetic analyses.

Planning sampling

dna from extinct humans

Richard (Bert) Roberts, Vladimir Ulianov and Maxim Kozlikin (clockwise from top) planning the sampling of sediments in the East Chamber of Denisova Cave, Russia. (Image credit: IAET SB RAS / Sergei Zelensky)

Scientists found DNA related to the extinct human lineage called Denisovans in Denisova Cave in Siberia. Here, Richard (Bert) Roberts, Vladimir Ulianov and Maxim Kozlikin (clockwise from top) plan the sampling of sediments in the cave's east chamber.

Neandertal DNA

dna from extinct humans

The Galería del Osario ('tunnel of bones') at the archaeological site of El Sidrón, Spain. Neandertal DNA was retrieved from sediment collected from a layer rich in Neandertal skeletal remains. (Image credit: J. Fortea)

The Galería del Osario ("tunnel of bones") at the archaeological site of El Sidrón, Spain. Neandertal DNA was retrieved from sediment collected from a layer rich in Neandertal skeletal remains in this cave.

Spanish samples

dna from extinct humans

Excavations at the site of El Sidrón, Spain. (Image credit: El Sidrón research team)

Excavations at the site of El Sidrón, Spain.

DNA Clean

dna from extinct humans

Excavations at the archaeological site of El Sidrón, Spain, are carried out using a 'DNA clean' protocol to avoid contaminating the samples. (Image credit: Group of Paleoanthropology MNCN-CSIC)

Excavations at the archaeological site of El Sidrón, Spain, are carried out using a "DNA clean" protocol to avoid contaminating the samples.

In Croatia

dna from extinct humans

Entrance to the archaeological site of Vindija Cave, Croatia. (Image credit: Johannes Krause, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Entrance to the archaeological site of Vindija Cave, Croatia.

At the lab

dna from extinct humans

Matthias Meyer at work in the clean laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Matthias Meyer at work in the clean laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Test samples

dna from extinct humans

Viviane Slon preparing a sediment sample for DNA extraction. (Image credit: Sylvio Tüpke, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Viviane Slon preparing a sediment sample for DNA extraction. [Read the full story on the search for human DNA]

Jeanna Bryner

Jeanna is the editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.