Fossil dating maps
(Sidenote: Most researchers consider all three groups — modern humans, Denisovans and Neanderthals — as separate species of human, though the definition of contributor Bridget Alex recently wrote an excellent primer on what makes a species.
It’s worth reading, especially before commenting on this latest research.) Unfortunately, full analysis of the fossils and artifacts found at the site has been problematic because precise dating is difficult to establish.
It’s easy for fragmentary fossil finds and small artifacts to get shoved from one layer to another in such chaos.
Cave Chronology The second team conducted a careful stratigraphic analysis of all three chambers in the cave, determining more than 100 new dating references for layers deposited over millennia.
(Right about now, you may be wondering whether fossils have been found at Denisova Cave from the same time periods as Neanderthal and Denisovan remains, though hominin remains at the site are generally fragmentary and many remain unstudied.
Some researchers have attributed a few of the artifacts from the site to modern humans based on style.
The method, while promising, has not yet been perfected, which the authors acknowledge.
Their study is, however, the first time it has been attempted on the Denisova Cave hominins.