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In Photos: A Bone from a Denisovan-Neanderthal Hybrid

A huge discovery

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Thomas Higham, University of Oxford)

This bone fragment, called "Denisova 11," was found in 2012 at Denisova Cave in Russia by archaeologists. New DNA evidence reveals the bone originally came from a girl or woman who was the daughter of a Neandertal mother and a Denisovan father.

Remote cave

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Here, a view of the Denisova Cave archaeological site in Russia, where the leg bone was found along with bones from Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Siberian locale

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Another view of the valley from above the Denisova Cave archaeological site, Russia.

Hidden treasures

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

The valley in Siberia where the Denisova Cave archaeological site sits. It has yielded many new insights into some of our extinct, ancient human relatives.

Entering the site

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

View of the entrance to the Denisova Cave archaeological site, Russia.

Excavations continue

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Researchers excavate the East Chamber of Denisova Cave, where the leg bone was found.

Unearthing bones

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Here, researchers continue to excavate the East Chamber of Denisova Cave.

Layers of history

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: IAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky)

This stratigraphic profile of the East Chamber in Denisova Cave can reveal the ages of different archaeological finds.

Researchers unearth the past

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: IAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky)

Richard (Bert) Roberts, Vladimir Ulianov and Maxim Kozlikin (clockwise from top) excavate in the East Chamber of Denisova Cave. The cave was already known to contain Neanderthal and Denisovan bones, though not necessarily from the same period.

Clean room

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Here, the clean laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where the ancient DNA was analyzed. Researchers must be meticulous to avoid contaminating ancient DNA samples.

Isolating the genes

Denisova Cave discoveries

(Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

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