Professor Laura Shackelford's research in the  Annamite Mountains of Laos is shedding light to mystery. She and collaborator Fabrice Demeter, a paleoanthropologist at the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, have uncovered pieces of human remains from the Denisovans, an ancient human group that split from their relatives, the Neanderthals, 400,000 years ago. 

According to the National Geographic, which features and partially funded the research, the discovery is important, not only because it offers a much more extended sample of bones and teeth of the Denisovans than the limited ones we had had to this day. The finds confirm that the Denisovans had traveled beyond what we had already known of them, and left their genetic fingerprint in most modern people of Asian descent.  

“It kind of makes me think about how similar they are to us,” says Professor Shackelford to National Geographic. “We’re incredibly flexible—that’s sort of the hallmark of modern humans.”

Check out the National Geographic article here for more about this exciting research. Besides National Geographic, Professor Shackelford's big discovery has been featured in other very prominent publications, such as the NY Times, and the Smithsonian Magazine