Home Science Biology Has X-Woman, another human species, been found?

An analysis of DNA taken from the Altai Mountains in Siberia has revealed that another species of humans may have lived with modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) about 40,000 years ago. The ancient hominid member is being informally called X-Woman.



A third human type hominid was possibly discovered from a complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequence.

A hominid is any member of the family Hominidae, which includes extinct (no longer in existence) and extant (presently existing) humans, bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.

The DNA sample was originally taken in 2008 from Denisova Cave, which is located the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia.

The sample was procured from the bone of the small finger of a woman'”who is being called 'X-Woman'.

The German, American, Austrian, and Russian scientists involved in the discovery are not sure yet if this is a completely different species of human being or not.

However, they are fairly sure that the DNA found represents a separate migration of hominids out of Africa and into Asia.

Page two continues.



The researchers are continuing to investigate the possibility that this new species of human, being informally called the 'Denisova hominin,' did indeed live with modern humans and Neanderthals during this period of evolution for humans, somewhere between 30,000 and 48,000 years ago.

The summary of their research has been published online on March 24, 2010, in the journal Nature (doi:10.1038/nature08976). The title of the paper is 'The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia.'

The paper is authored, and the discovery was made, by:

'¢   German/Austrian scientists: Johannes Krause, Qiaomei Fu, Svante Pääbo, and Bence Viola (all from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, with Viola also from the Department of Anthropology, University of Vienna, Wien, Austria),
'¢   American scientist: Jeffrey M. Good (from the Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana U.S.A.), and
'¢   Russian scientists: Michael V. Shunkov and Anatoli P. Derevianko (both from Paleolithic Department, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia).

They state in the abstract to their paper, 'With the exception of Neanderthals, from which DNA sequences of numerous individuals have now been determined, the number and genetic relationships of other hominin lineages are largely unknown.'

Page three concludes with more comments from the authors.



And, they conjecture that the DNA sample, ''¦ represents a hitherto unknown type of hominin mtDNA that shares a common ancestor with anatomically modern human and Neanderthal mtDN about 1.0 million years ago.'

They conclude in the abstract, 'This indicates that it derives from a hominin migration out of Africa distinct from that of the ancestors of Neanderthals and of modern humans. The stratigraphy of the cave where the bone was found suggests that the Denisova hominin lived close in time and space with Neanderthals as well as with modern humans."

Dr. Pääbo, one of the authors, stated, 'Maybe it's an oversimplification to think about particular migrations out of Africa - saying there was one 2 million years ago, one half a million years ago, one 50,000 years ago. There might have been more or less continuous gene flow or migration that now and again is more frequent, less frequent."

Pääbo conjectures, based on this exciting discovery, that: "The picture that's going to emerge in the next years might be a more complex one." [MSNBC (March 24, 2010): 'DNA reveals prehistoric surprise']


Download an in-depth guide to managing a healthy, motivated and energetic workforce without breaking the bank.


William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University






Join the iTWire Community and be part of the latest news, invites to exclusive events, whitepapers and educational materials and oppertunities.
Why do I want to receive this daily update?
  • The latest features from iTWire
  • Free whitepaper downloads
  • Industry opportunities