DNA of Melanesians of the South Pacific point to a possible third, but still unidentified extinct human species.
DNA tests on the Melanesians, a group of Indigenous people living in the South Pacific reveal a possible third species of extinct humans but scientists are still groping in the dark.
A distinct set of DNAs from this indigenous group have surfaced during the study. However, these DNAs could not be identified with those inherited from Neanderthals or Denisovans – two species of humans known to have roamed the earth as evidenced by fossil records.
An expert in statistical genetics cited two possibilities – either there is a third species that hasn’t been uncovered or, relationships have been misinterpreted due to lack of data.
A team of experts has been analyzing DNAs of modern humans and the number of extinct human DNAs they carry. Lately, there have been hints that Neanderthals and Denisovans may not be the only extinct humans that had lived before.
Human ancestors have made contact with other hominids, the Neanderthals – inhabitants of Eurasian regions. This association has left Neanderthal DNA in genomes of modern humans, specifically among Asians and Europeans.
On top of this, modern humans of European lineage have inherited a predisposition for developing depression among others. Another study hinted that HPV might have been contracted by our ancestors from Neanderthals and Denisovans.
There are more discovered and recorded fossilized remains of Neanderthals than Denisovans whose fossil records comprise merely of a few tooth fragments and a finger bone. For this reason, there has been a dearth of studies conducted on Denisovans.
In one of a series of tests, it was found out that Denisovan DNA among Melanesians is only 1.11 percent. This is a deviation from previous, older tests done where up to 6 percent of Melanesian DNA is Denisovan.
Because of this gap, statistical geneticists who conducted the more recent test suggests that there could be a third human species that once roamed the earth but didn’t survive, just like the Neanderthals and Denisovans. The problem is that there are no fossil records pointing to a third extinct species.
However, this assumption agrees with some of the outcomes of genetic studies conducted by the Natural History of Museum of Denmark on Australian aborigines and natives of Papua New Guinea.
The said genetic study also suggested that Australian aborigines have Denisovan-like DNA but have other distinct features that aren’t Denisovan nor Neanderthal. This has led the group to state that the DNA could have been inherited from a third still unidentified extinct human species.
On the other hand, it is highly possible that there are no third extinct species. Due to lack of fossil records, scientists description of Denisovan DNA could be debatable. DNA identification can be marred by these deficiencies.
Discovery of more fossil records of extinct human species such as Denisovans and others that remain undiscovered may help further explain these findings as well as further our knowledge about our beginnings.