The famous Denisova peshchera (cave), one of the oldest habitation sites of North Asia, is situated in the northwest of Mountain Altai, in the Annui River Valley. Samples of plant pollen and seed as well as mollusk shells and bone remains of animals and birds gathered there over the last 20 years by Siberian archeologists enable scientists to see what the natural environment and climate were like in the dim and distant past. Many of the artifacts (stone and bone tools, decorative objects) invite the conclusion that the transition from the Middle to the Upper (High) Paleolithic* occurred earlier there than in other regions. These are comprehensive studies, with many experts taking part side by side with archeologists (geologists, petrographers, pale-obotanists, paleozoologists, anthropologists, paleoge-neticists).
Speaking at a news conference in Novosibirsk last December, Dr. Mikhail Shunkov, a historian and deputy chief the Archeology and Ethnography Institute (RAS Siberian Branch), told journalists about the results of work done in the prehistoric cave. A report about that news conference was carried in the paper Nauka v Sibiri ("Science in Siberia").
-- Two years ago, archeologists recovered a finger phalanx belonging to prehistoric man. This find was retrieved from the 11th habitation level of the cave corresponding to the beginning of the early Stone Age. This was really a windfall, for we know but of a few instances of human bone remains old like that found in our country.
This material was sent to the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany) for genetic analysis, where mitochondrial DNA was isolated from the bone fragments. Its decoding gave surprising results: this mtDNA differed from the DNA of Neanderthal man of the early Stone Age and even from that of Homo sapiens, or modern man. Published by the Nature mag-
* Paleolithic-of or related to the earliest part of the Stone Age. P. is the earliest known stage i ... Читать далее