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Who is Deni?

Our Last Denisovan Ancestor

By Emily Marie ConcannonPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
Who is Deni?
Photo by Luke Braswell on Unsplash

What can I give you, my beautiful daughter?

Please, papa, just a bracelet. I want a green bracelet with a golden charm.

Green crystals are not close to our home, but I will find you the finest. As for the gold charm, what shape shall I carve it?

Please, papa, a swan. I want a golden swan to carry my soul into the north, where we all rest together for eternity.


Who Are the Denisovans?

The Denisovans are a group of hominids that went extinct between 14,000-30,000 years ago. They were known for their height which most experts estimate was over 6 feet tall on average. While only small fragments have been found of their remains, scientists have been able to sequence their DNA.

The Denisovans, or Denisova Hominis, were a group of hominids. They have been estimated as living in northern and southern Asia for hundreds of thousands of years.

Their closest relatives were the Neanderthals. Experts believe they diverged from one another around 390,000 years ago. This would mean they were contemporaries of several humanoid ancestors.

While Homo Erectus might have met the Denisovans in Java, this hasn't been well established. However, they definitely met Neanderthals and probably encountered Homo Sapiens.

We share a common ancestor with these unique hominids in Homo Heidelbergensis. This is believed to be one of our earliest common ancestors of most of the homo genus.

What sets the Denisovans apart from Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens is their height and strength. Modern humans only share between 2-6% of their DNA with Denisovans. Neanderthals are thought to have more DNA shared with Denisovans, with their DNA sometimes being hard to distinguish.

By Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

What Were the Denisovans Like?

Unfortunately, archeologists are still discovering most of the remains of these mysterious ancestors. The best estimates indicate they were tall, social, and intelligent. Similar to our previous false assessment of Neanderthals being blundering fools, Denisovans may have surpassed our ancestors during their earthly reign.

Denisovans had comparable brains to modern humans, according to recent studies. While we have yet to find a full skeleton, thanks to their similar DNA to Neanderthals, we can assume they had similar cranial cavities.

Neanderthals had about the same-sized brains as modern humans. This means their speech, emotional, and social capabilities would have been about the same as ours.

Of course, this doesn't mean Denisovans had the internet or airplanes. What it does mean is they had the same capabilities of mental function as we have today.

There's evidence that both the Denisovans and Neanderthals were loving hominids. They had villages, cared for the sick, and created artistic forms of expression.

While we've never found evidence of writing, they did paint and possibly use hallucinogenic substances. This is evident in their paintings, carvings, and other shamanistic relics found all over Eurasia. Since the Neanderthals and the Denisovans were so close, we can assume they shared many cultural and social practices.

Archeologists have found carved stones, animal bones, and painted objects indicating they used these ritualistically. Unfortunately, we only have fragments of their creations.

By Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Where Did the Denisovans Live?

The Denisovans seemed to love mountains. Their remains have been found in several caverns scattered across mountain ranges in northern and southern Asia. The most intact artifacts were found in Denisovan Cave in Siberia, Russia.

In 2010 explorers in Siberia discovered a fragment of a finger bone. This was the very first time we stumbled upon our missing ancestors. This finger belonged to a Denisovan and the cavern where they discovered it seemed to have housed Denisovans for thousands of years.

There was evidence of residency in this cave by Denisovans for over 200,000 years. Bones from animals likely consumed by our ancestors date back over 50,000 years.

In this cavern they also found several trinkets and an impressively carved bracelet. This bracelet was one of the finest samples of ancient craftsmanship ever discovered.

Unfortunately, due to copyright law I can't share an image of this bracelet here. But please click on this link to see this stunning work of art which has been dated back to over 50,000 years ago!

Not only is this bracelet a feat of engineering for people thought to lack any advanced tools, but it is made from Chlorite. This particular crystal is unavailable near the Denisovan cavern, indicating they either traveled or had trade with neighboring tribes!

By Girl with red hat on Unsplash

Who Was Deni or Denny?

Deni or Denny is the nickname given to the remains of a young Denisovan girl. These remains consisted merely of a small finger fragment, which was enough to sequence and date her DNA. She was found to have died at 13 and lived over 90,000 years ago in Siberia.

One of the most amazing things about this young Denisovan was her ancestry. When her DNA was sequenced back in the mid-2000s, they found she was actually a hybrid!

Her mother was a Neanderthal, and her father was a Denisovan. This confirmed the suspicion that these two groups of hominids were very close!

I started this article with a brief, supposed conversation between this young girl and her father. I like to imagine that maybe the jewelry fragments these hominids left behind might have been gifts from a parent to their child.

We like to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution. Our ancestors were so silly, lumbering about, whacking themselves in the head with sticks!

The truth is, the Denisovans seem to have been our superiors. They were taller, stronger, and advanced culturally long before our ancestors started developing culture! They are, in many ways, our predecessors, and we owe them a great deal for our development.



Images of the Denisovan Bracelet:


About the Creator

Emily Marie Concannon

I am a world nomad with a passion for vegan food, history, coffee, and equality.

You can find my first novel on Kindle Vella here: :) I appreciate all your support and engagement! :)

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Comments (18)

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  • Donna Renee22 days ago

    that was fascinating!! I was thinking "I've never heard of this!" until the finger bone part and then that jogged my memory! And that link to the bracelet-- how in the world did they make that??

  • suman mohanabout a month ago

    Very interesting ! Thanks for sharing unknown History of hominid

  • Samara Simsonabout a month ago

    Love your writing. History made fascinating. Subscribed ❤️

  • Chua Yuan Heng2 months ago

    Earliest humans are fascinating. I wished I have had lived a past lifetime as one.

  • Michael Darvall2 months ago

    As we learn more about the archaeological record we seem to be finding more and more sub-branches of the hominid family. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on these people.

  • Heather Lunsford2 months ago

    Thank you for writing this. I love things that get me curious. I checked out the bracelet what amazing workmanship. My theory is we all have much more in common than we do differences. Seems that is true no matter the time between our existence.

  • Carl Brisko2 months ago

    How did they go extinct?

  • C. H. Richard2 months ago

    Very interesting read! I would love to learn more about the history and culture of the Denisovans! Well done!

  • Allie Bickerton2 months ago

    Wow! What an interesting and insightful read!!! 💕

  • Kendall Defoe2 months ago

    One of the most interesting things I have read on this page.

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Very interesting. Congrats on the Top Story.

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Ooo, I always enjoy a nice read about paleontology. Thanks for providing the links. I think that needs to be done more often when it comes to content on Vocal.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Fabulous, absolutely fabulous piece from beginning to end!!! Loved it!!! Congrats too!!!

  • Extremely interesting and informative and congratulations on your top story

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    YESSS!!! Congratulations on Top Story, so well deserved :)

  • KJ Aartila2 months ago

    This article is so interesting & informative. Thank you for sharing it! :)

  • Whoaaaa, a hybrid! I've always been fascinated with the past and I found your article veryyyyy interesting! I only knew about Neanderthals. Had no idea about Denisovans! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    I found this so incredibly interesting, and you presented it in a really great format with a good flow. I loved looking at the bracelet so thank you for including that link. What happened to them though? I wanted more, but that's not your lack of writing, but need to know more!

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