August 31, 2012 - 12:50 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The DNA of a cave girl who lived about 80,000 years ago has been analyzed in remarkable detail, BBC News reported.
The picture of her genome is as accurate as that of modern day human genomes, and shows she had brown eyes, hair and skin. The research in Science also sheds new light on the genetic differences between modern humans and their closest extinct relatives.
The cave dweller, a Denisovan, was a cousin of the Neanderthals.
Both groups of ancient humans died out about 30,000 years ago, but have left their mark in the gene pool of modern people.
The Denisovans have mysterious origins. They appear to have left little behind for palaeontologists save a tiny finger bone and a wisdom tooth found in Siberia's Denisova cave in 2010. Though some researchers have proposed a possible link between the Denisovans and human fossils from China that have previously been difficult to classify.
The most detailed genetic analysis yet of the Denisovans also confirms that they bred with the ancestors of some people alive today, the researchers said.
It shows that about 3% of the genomes of people living today in Papua New Guinea come from Denisovans, with a trace of their DNA lingering in the Han and Dai people from mainland China.
The genetic variation of Denisovans was very low, suggesting that although they were found in large parts of Asia their population remained small.