A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau

Fahu Chen, Frido Welker, Chuan Chou Shen, Shara Bailey, Inga Bergmann, Simon Davis, Huan Xia, Hui Wang, Roman Fischer, Sarah E. Freidline, Tsai Luen Yu, Matthew M. Skinner, Stefanie Stelzer, Guangrong Dong, Qiaomei Fu, Guanghui Dong, Jian Wang, Dongju Zhang, Jean Jacques Hublin

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

    Abstract

    Denisovans are members of a hominin group who are currently only known directly from fragmentary fossils, the genomes of which have been studied from a single site, Denisova Cave 1–3 in Siberia. They are also known indirectly from their genetic legacy through gene flow into several low-altitude East Asian populations 4,5 and high-altitude modern Tibetans 6 . The lack of morphologically informative Denisovan fossils hinders our ability to connect geographically and temporally dispersed fossil hominins from Asia and to understand in a coherent manner their relation to recent Asian populations. This includes understanding the genetic adaptation of humans to the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau 7,8 , which was inherited from the Denisovans. Here we report a Denisovan mandible, identified by ancient protein analysis 9,10 , found on the Tibetan Plateau in Baishiya Karst Cave, Xiahe, Gansu, China. We determine the mandible to be at least 160 thousand years old through U-series dating of an adhering carbonate matrix. The Xiahe specimen provides direct evidence of the Denisovans outside the Altai Mountains and its analysis unique insights into Denisovan mandibular and dental morphology. Our results indicate that archaic hominins occupied the Tibetan Plateau in the Middle Pleistocene epoch and successfully adapted to high-altitude hypoxic environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)409-412
    Number of pages4
    JournalNature
    Volume569
    Issue number7756
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 16 2019

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    Mandible
    Fossils
    Hominidae
    Siberia
    Gene Flow
    Carbonates
    Medical Genetics
    Population
    China
    Tooth
    Genome
    Proteins

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

    Cite this

    Chen, F., Welker, F., Shen, C. C., Bailey, S., Bergmann, I., Davis, S., ... Hublin, J. J. (2019). A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau. Nature, 569(7756), 409-412. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1139-x

    A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau. / Chen, Fahu; Welker, Frido; Shen, Chuan Chou; Bailey, Shara; Bergmann, Inga; Davis, Simon; Xia, Huan; Wang, Hui; Fischer, Roman; Freidline, Sarah E.; Yu, Tsai Luen; Skinner, Matthew M.; Stelzer, Stefanie; Dong, Guangrong; Fu, Qiaomei; Dong, Guanghui; Wang, Jian; Zhang, Dongju; Hublin, Jean Jacques.

    In: Nature, Vol. 569, No. 7756, 16.05.2019, p. 409-412.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

    Chen, F, Welker, F, Shen, CC, Bailey, S, Bergmann, I, Davis, S, Xia, H, Wang, H, Fischer, R, Freidline, SE, Yu, TL, Skinner, MM, Stelzer, S, Dong, G, Fu, Q, Dong, G, Wang, J, Zhang, D & Hublin, JJ 2019, 'A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau', Nature, vol. 569, no. 7756, pp. 409-412. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1139-x
    Chen F, Welker F, Shen CC, Bailey S, Bergmann I, Davis S et al. A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau. Nature. 2019 May 16;569(7756):409-412. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1139-x
    Chen, Fahu ; Welker, Frido ; Shen, Chuan Chou ; Bailey, Shara ; Bergmann, Inga ; Davis, Simon ; Xia, Huan ; Wang, Hui ; Fischer, Roman ; Freidline, Sarah E. ; Yu, Tsai Luen ; Skinner, Matthew M. ; Stelzer, Stefanie ; Dong, Guangrong ; Fu, Qiaomei ; Dong, Guanghui ; Wang, Jian ; Zhang, Dongju ; Hublin, Jean Jacques. / A late Middle Pleistocene Denisovan mandible from the Tibetan Plateau. In: Nature. 2019 ; Vol. 569, No. 7756. pp. 409-412.
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    abstract = "Denisovans are members of a hominin group who are currently only known directly from fragmentary fossils, the genomes of which have been studied from a single site, Denisova Cave 1–3 in Siberia. They are also known indirectly from their genetic legacy through gene flow into several low-altitude East Asian populations 4,5 and high-altitude modern Tibetans 6 . The lack of morphologically informative Denisovan fossils hinders our ability to connect geographically and temporally dispersed fossil hominins from Asia and to understand in a coherent manner their relation to recent Asian populations. This includes understanding the genetic adaptation of humans to the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau 7,8 , which was inherited from the Denisovans. Here we report a Denisovan mandible, identified by ancient protein analysis 9,10 , found on the Tibetan Plateau in Baishiya Karst Cave, Xiahe, Gansu, China. We determine the mandible to be at least 160 thousand years old through U-series dating of an adhering carbonate matrix. The Xiahe specimen provides direct evidence of the Denisovans outside the Altai Mountains and its analysis unique insights into Denisovan mandibular and dental morphology. Our results indicate that archaic hominins occupied the Tibetan Plateau in the Middle Pleistocene epoch and successfully adapted to high-altitude hypoxic environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens.",
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    AU - Chen, Fahu

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    AU - Bailey, Shara

    AU - Bergmann, Inga

    AU - Davis, Simon

    AU - Xia, Huan

    AU - Wang, Hui

    AU - Fischer, Roman

    AU - Freidline, Sarah E.

    AU - Yu, Tsai Luen

    AU - Skinner, Matthew M.

    AU - Stelzer, Stefanie

    AU - Dong, Guangrong

    AU - Fu, Qiaomei

    AU - Dong, Guanghui

    AU - Wang, Jian

    AU - Zhang, Dongju

    AU - Hublin, Jean Jacques

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