The 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2019)

What do Denisovans look like? Looking into the Middle and Late Pleistocene hominin fossil record from Asia


1Hominin Palaeobiology, CENIEH (National Research Center on Human Evolution) Spain, 2Anthropology, University College London, 3Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, 4CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment

March 28, 2019 8:45, CC Ballroom A Add to calendar

For many decades, the name H. erectus has been used as a blanket term to refer to almost any hominin found in Asia during the Pleistocene until the appearance of Homo sapiens. However, recent fossil studies have helped to refine the morphological definition of classic H. erectus (Xing et al., 2017). In this context, hominin fossils like those from Zhoukoudian, Hexian and Yiyuan can be assigned to H. erectus s.s., whereas the taxonomy of fossil samples from Xujiayao, Xuchang, Maba or Panxian Dadong remain uncertain (e.g., Xing et al., 2015, Liu et al., 2013). These samples become particularly relevant in the light of the Denisovan’s discovery (Krause et al., 2010). It is not clear yet whether Denisovans deserve specific distinction or may be represented by some Middle to Late Pleistocene human samples we already know from the Asian fossil record. Here we present an overview of the Chinese record for this period in search of possible candidates to represent the physically “elusive” Denisovans.

Krause, J., Qiaomei, F. et al. 2010. The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia. Nature, 464 894–97

Xing, S., Martinón-Torres et al. 2018. The fossil teeth of the Peking Man. Scientific Reports 8.

Xing, S., Martinón-Torres, M. et al. 2015a. Hominin teeth from the early Late Pleistocene site of Xujiayao, Northern China. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156, 224-240.

Liu, W., Schepartz, L.A. et al. 2013. Late Middle Pleistocene hominin teeth from Panxian Dadong, South China. Journal of Human Evolution 64, 337-355.

Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDPB05, 132311KYSB20160004), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41630102, 41672020), Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2015-65387-C3-3-P), British Academy (International Partnership and Mobility Scheme PM160019), Leakey Foundation