Scientists have offered a first glimpse at what our prehistoric relatives, the Denisovans, looked like.
Denisovans lived in Siberia and Eastern Asia and went extinct approximately 50,000 years ago, said Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher Prof.
The aim of the research was to gain insights into Denisovan traits that are now not present in the fossil record - which is majority, said study co-author Liran Carmel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a computational biologist who studies human evolution.
It turns out, Carmel said, "we are all very similar".
Who were the Denisovans?.
Denisovan remains were first discovered in 2008 and have fascinated human evolution researchers ever since.
Denisovans lived 100,000 years ago and never, to our knowledge, sat for portraits. The two groups are then thought to have diverged between 390,000 and 440,000 years ago.
Based on ancient DNA methylation patterns, a portrait of a juvenile female Denisovan has been recreated.
As further finds of Denisovan remains have proved elusive, Professor Carmel and his colleagues made a decision to use this genetic data to find out more about this mysterious human's anatomy. Nevertheless, from these scanty remains a team of researchers reporting in the journal Cell have produced reconstructions of these long-lost human relatives based on patterns of methylation extracted from ancient DNA.
To find a work-around, David Gokhman and Liran Carmel.
"This is a signal for the cell to say '[At] this place, I can read the neighbouring gene, or not read the gene'".
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Now, instead of relying on bone structure, genetics experts instead looked at DNA code and specifically how different genes were expressed, which influence appearance.
Explaining the technique to Gizmodo, Stringer said the observed methylation patterns were "translated into predictions of how those patterns would affect certain developmental pathways, using genetically linked abnormalities in modern human anatomy as a check on the areas of the body affected, and where possible, the direction of change compared with the norm". Incredibly, the researchers achieved 85 per cent accuracy, which is the same level of confidence they attribute to the Denisovan reconstruction.
The findings show that DNA methylation can be used to reconstruct anatomical features, including some that do not survive in the fossil record.
While the research was under review, the discovery of a Denisovan mandible was announced.
The researchers first compared DNA methylation patterns between the three hominin groups to find regions in the genome that were differentially methylated.
So, what did the Denisovans look like?
It was slightly better at differentiating between modern humans and chimpanzees, reaching 91 percent precision at predicting divergent traits and 91 percent precision at predicting their direction.
The analysis also indicated Denisovans had a full face than Neanderthals or trendy people, and that they had a new protruding face than our personal species however much less so than Neanderthals, for instance.
For example, the Denisovan skull was probably wider than that of modern humans or Neanderthals.
When asked if a Denisovan individual would stick out if they were to walk around in public today, Carmel wrote, "This is a question that I ask myself too????!" And, it turned out that the jaw bone matched their predictions. But the Denisovans followed their own evolutionary path after breaking away from the Neanderthals, exhibiting a longer dental arch (the horseshoe-shaped arch to which our teeth are attached), and a wider skull.