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Thread: Meet Denny, the ancient mixed-heritage mystery girl

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    Meet Denny, the ancient mixed-heritage mystery girl

    The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father

    Then the Leipzig team – led by Pääbo’s student Viviane Slon – began more detailed genetic analysis and made a startling discovery. Exactly half the sample consisted of Neanderthal DNA. The other half was made up of Denisovan DNA. At first, the researchers assumed that the sample was contaminated. “I thought they must have screwed up something,” says Pääbo.

    But re-testing confirmed the finding: the Oxford team had discovered the 90,000-year-old remains of a hybrid daughter of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. She was nicknamed Denny. “If you had asked me beforehand, I would have said we will never find this, it is like finding a needle in a haystack,” Pääbo told Nature.

    To discover a first-generation person of mixed ancestry was extraordinary. But there were more revelations to come. Further detailed studies of the genes of Denny’s Denisovan father were found to contain fragments of Neanderthal DNA. These indicated that interbreeding between the two species had also occurred at an earlier time.

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