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THE human story only becomes more intricate and fascinating. For hundreds of thousands of years, a mysterious group known as the Denisovans lived in the east of Asia – even as our species was emerging in Africa and beginning to spread around the world. Their homeland spanned thousands of kilometres and they existed as a group longer than we have as a species. Yet they were utterly unknown until 2010, when they were identified from DNA preserved in a bone fragment.

A decade later, the Denisovans remain enigmatic. We know they were a sister group to the Neanderthals, …