The first inhabitants of Tibet were the denisovans, who lived there more than 160 thousand years ago. To such conclusion the group of European geneticists and paleontologists, reports .
Jean-Jacques Hublin from the Institute of evolutionary anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues found the first “real” evidence of the presence of Denisovsky person outside of Denisov cave in the Russian Altai. The researchers studied the fragments of the jaw of ancient man, who in 1980 found a Tibetan monk in the cave Baixia in a Chinese County Sage.
These remains have long been kept in a private treasure house, but the owner donated it to the experts from the Chinese University of Lanchjou. Scientists became interested in the jaw and arranged in the cave a number of expeditions, suggesting that its owner was a Neanderthal.
A few years ago, their excavations was joined by European explorers. They found in the cave a lot of tools, animal bones and other artifacts of the age of about 165 thousand years, testified to the antiquity of their owners.
When examining jaws, scientists have discovered teeth a unique set of proteins that were not contained in monkeys and Neanderthals, but were similar to enzymes of the denisovans. Based on this, the specialists concluded that the inhabitant of the cave was either full-blooded Denisova, or a half-breed – a mixture of Denisova and Neanderthal.
Thanks to this discovery, experts also found that the denisovans were not similar to Neanderthals, but the shape of the jaw resembled erectus people Homo erectus.
Moreover, they managed to establish, that the modern inhabitants of Tibet could have inherited from the denisovans unusual version of the gene EPAS1, which makes their body resistant to lack of oxygen, adapting to life in the highlands.