Fossil dating maps
This work allowed the researchers to build a new and more precise timeline for the fossils, artifacts and other material found at Denisova.
The team used a dating method called optically stimulated luminescence, which can determine when certain minerals within the layers were last exposed to sunlight.
This is a problem at Denisova because sediment layers have been disturbed in several areas thanks to activities such as animals trampling and digging and generally making a mess of things.
The area is also prone to freeze-thaw cycles that can thrust layers up or down, irregularly, as the ground and air temperatures fluctuate dramatically.
Researchers sampled these Denisova Cave artifacts — bone points and pierced teeth — and fossils to determine a more precise timeline for hominins using the site.
The youngest Denisovan fossil is 52,000-76,000 years old.The researchers were part of a team that created a new and more refined timeline of both Neanderthals and Denisovans at the site.Order from Chaos In the studies published today, two teams took different approaches to untangling the cave’s complicated setting and establishing a more precise timeline for Denisovans and Neanderthals at the site.It’s easy for fragmentary fossil finds and small artifacts to get shoved from one layer to another in such chaos.Natalia Belousova (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Tom Higham taking samples from Denisova Cave’s Main Chamber.