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The use of collagen peptide mass fingerprinting of ancient bone samples, so-called Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (Zoo MS), for species identification allowed the sorting of 2,315 unidentified bone fragments from 2012 One sample, DC1227 (Denisova 11), taken from layer 12 of the East Gallery, carried human traits.
This was the first time that this technique was used to successfully identify the presence of an extinct human.
However, the mother of Denisova 11 was genetically closer to Neanderthal specimen Vindija 33.19 from Vindija Cave in Croatia and to other sequenced Neanderthal individuals than to the Altai Neanderthal.
This suggests a migration or population turnover involving the Neanderthal populations of the region surrounding the Denisova cave.
The cave is located in a region thought to have been inhabited concurrently in the past by Neanderthals and modern humans.