A fossilised little finger discovered in a cave in the mountains of southern Siberia belonged to a young girl from an unknown group of archaic humans, scientists say.
The missing human relatives are thought to have inhabited much of Asia as recently as 30,000 years ago, and so shared the land with early modern humans and Neanderthals.
The finding paints a complex picture of human history in which our early ancestors left Africa 70,000 years ago to rub shoulders with other distant relatives in addition to the stocky, barrel-chested Neanderthals.
The new ancestors have been named \”Denisovans\” after the Denisova cave in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia where the finger bone was unearthed in 2008.
A \”Denis\” is thus a member of an archaic human subspecies.