The Denisovans are an extinct group of fossil humans who, along with their sister group the Neanderthals, also share an ancestor with Homo sapiens. Thus far, they are known only from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, where they first appear to have entered the stage from perhaps as early as 287,000 years ago (or, conservatively, from around 200,000 years ago). Their latest known presence was quite a bit later – around 55,000 years ago – which indicates the Denisovans called the Altai region their home, at least at certain times, over a period of well over a 100,000 years.

More about: Denisovan


  • c. 550000 BCE - c. 765000 BCE
    Estimated time of divergence between the branch that would develop into Neanderthals on the one hand and Denisovans on the other, and the branch that would lead to Homo sapiens.
  • c. 430000 BCE - c. 473000 BCE
    Estimated time of divergence of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
  • c. 287000 BCE - c. 55000 BCE
    Denisovan occupation of Denisova cave. Denisovan DNA found in cave sediments (that have yielded no bones) in Denisova Cave indicates this group of humans was present at this site between 287,000 (or, conservatively, c. 200,000) years ago and c. 55,000 years ago.
  • c. 50000 BCE - c. 195000 BCE
    Timespan covered by the current collection of Denisovan fossils. The oldest fossil (Denisova 2) is between 122,700-194,400 years old and the youngest (Denisova 3) between 51,600-76,200 years old.
  • c. 44000 BCE - c. 54000 BCE
    Estimated time at which Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of present-day Melanesians, presumably in Southeast Asia.