LEIPZIG, Germany, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- German researchers say they have completed the genome sequence of a Denisovan, a representative of an Asian group of extinct humans related to Neanderthals.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig said they were able to sequence the genome from a small fragment of a human finger bone discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia.
Denisovans, along with their cousins the Neanderthals, are the closest extinct relatives of currently living humans.
The DNA sequencing confirmed the relationship of Denisovans to Neanderthals and to present-day humans, an institute release reported Tuesday.
Researchers said the first complete genome sequence of an archaic human group will be a step forward in the study of extinct forms of humans.
"We hope that biologists will be able to use this genome to discover genetic changes that were important for the development of modern human culture and technology, and enabled modern humans to leave Africa and rapidly spread around the world, starting around 100,000 years ago," Svante Paabo at the Max Planck institute said.