More than a decade of genetic research on the Denisovans

Stéphane Peyrégne*, Viviane Slon, Janet Kelso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Denisovans, a group of now extinct humans who lived in Eastern Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene, were first identified from DNA sequences just over a decade ago. Only ten fragmentary remains from two sites have been attributed to Denisovans based entirely on molecular information. Nevertheless, there has been great interest in using genetic data to understand Denisovans and their place in human history. From the reconstruction of a single high-quality genome, it has been possible to infer their population history, including events of admixture with other human groups. Additionally, the identification of Denisovan DNA in the genomes of present-day individuals has provided insights into the timing and routes of dispersal of ancient modern humans into Asia and Oceania, as well as the contributions of archaic DNA to the physiology of present-day people. In this Review, we synthesize more than a decade of research on Denisovans, reconcile controversies and summarize insights into their population history and phenotype. We also highlight how our growing knowledge about Denisovans has provided insights into our own evolutionary history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


FundersFunder number
Alon Fellowship
European Research Council694707


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