Rare dental trait provides morphological evidence of archaic introgression in Asian fossil record

Shara E. Bailey, Jean Jacques Hublin, Susan C. Antón

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The recently described Denisovan hemimandible from Xiahe, China [F. Chen et al., (2019) Nature 569, 409–412], possesses an unusual dental feature: a 3-rooted lower second molar. A survey of the clinical and bioarchaeological literature demonstrates that the 3-rooted lower molar is rare (less than 3.5% occurrence) in non-Asian Homo sapiens. In contrast, its presence in Asian-derived populations can exceed 40% in China and the New World. It has long been thought that the prevalence of 3-rooted lower molars in Asia is a relatively late acquisition occurring well after the origin and dispersal of H. sapiens. However, the presence of a 3-rooted lower second molar in this 160,000-y-old fossil hominin suggests greater antiquity for the trait. Importantly, it also provides morphological evidence of a strong link between archaic and recent Asian H. sapiens populations. This link provides compelling evidence that modern Asian lineages acquired the 3-rooted lower molar via introgression from Denisovans.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)14806-14807
    Number of pages2
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume116
    Issue number30
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jul 23 2019

    Keywords

    • Denisovan
    • Dental anthropology
    • Introgression
    • Pleistocene Homo
    • Root morphology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

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