Researchers from the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in
Jakarta are collaborating with their US counterparts to trace the
presence of the genes of the prehistoric Denisovan and Homo floresiencis
humans in modern-day residents of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
"It has never been thought before whether there is Denisovan and Homo
floresiensis genes both in our genes and theirs [Flores residents]. We
will carry out research into the issue," said Eijkman Institute deputy
director, Herawati Sudoyo, in Jakarta on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
She said Indonesia was home to a wide variety of ancient hominid
humans. It was here that Homo floresiensis, nicknamed the ‘Hobbit’, the
most recently discovered human species was located and its evolution
remains a mystery.
"This is because we cannot yet prove through a DNA test whether [the
diminutive] Homo floresiensis is a new species or whether they were
short because of certain illnesses," said Herawati.
Although anthropologists could physically determine that the ancient
humans found in Liang Bua, Flores, were different from other hominids,
Herawati said the differences could be precisely determined and analyzed
through a DNA test.
"We can determine it through a wider perspective using ‘Genome-wide
scanning’. We can see it from the aspects of metabolism, nutrition,
food, including genes related to their susceptibility to diseases," she
Herawati said her team would soon start activities to organize the
field in Ruteng, Flores, together with researchers from the University
of California, before they started the survey and decided which samples
should be taken.
Meanwhile, Richard Edward Green, an assistant professor from the
Biomolecular Engineering Department of the University of California,
said researchers had found fossils of Denisovan ancient humans in the
Althai Mountains, Siberia.
Parts of the DNA fragments of the Denisovan ancient humans can be found
only in populations living east of the Wallace line, namely Australia,
Flores, Maluku, Oceania, Papua and the Philippines. (ebf)