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Fossil Fingerprinting and Identification of New Denisovan remains from Pleistocene Asia

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 FINDER project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the FINDER project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "FINDER" about.

neanderthals    evolution    expansion    patchwork    denisovans    eurasia    collagen    concerning    cutting    archaic    ultimately    tissues    modern    date    ancient    oceania    se    rectify    morphologically    models    people    30    history    unidentified    physically    spatio    variation    transformed    group    signature    routes    genetically    indigenous    few    movements    bone    reveal    africa    interpretative    discovery    earth    lineages    throughput    population    finger    thought    asia    collections    limits    frequency    dearth    tiny    interbred    demise    broad    stretched    age    discovered    behaviourally    asian    instead    fingerprinting    hard    bulk    expand    tropical    single    solving    radiocarbon    eventual    sites    designed       edge    forests    siberia    dna    assigned    genetic    nature    cave    20    groundbreaking    timing    denisovan    dating    siberian    biomolecules    steppes    archaeological    groups    combination    temporal    significantly    patchy    fragments    dominance    geographic    scientific    species    fossils    decode    emphasis    entire    human    amh    proteins    puzzles    humans    prior    hypotheses    bones    interaction    hominins    mechanisms    sole    previously    2010    unknown    migratory    despite    identifiable   

Project "FINDER" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: Munich
postcode: 80539

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙999˙292 €
 EC max contribution 1˙999˙292 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-06-01   to  2022-05-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Scientific analyses of ancient biomolecules (proteins, DNA, hard tissues) have transformed our knowledge of archaic hominins present in Eurasia prior to the expansion of modern humans from Africa. In 2010, a finger bone discovered in Siberia was assigned using DNA to a new, previously unknown human group, the Denisovans. The Denisovans interbred with both Asian Neanderthals and AMH over the past 100,000 years; their geographic distribution is now thought to have stretched from the Siberian steppes to the tropical forests of SE Asia and Oceania. Despite their broad spatio-temporal range, the Denisovans are only known from 4 tiny bones, all from a single Siberian cave. This patchy knowledge of an entire human population significantly limits our ability to test hypotheses and interpretative models concerning major issues in human evolution, such as the routes and timing of people movements across Asia, the nature and frequency of interaction between archaic indigenous groups and migratory modern humans, the mechanisms leading to the demise of archaic lineages and eventual sole dominance of our species on Earth. This project aims to rectify the dearth of Denisovan fossils by applying a novel combination of cutting-edge scientific methods (collagen fingerprinting, radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA analyses) designed to identify, date and genetically characterize new human fossils, with a particular emphasis on the discovery of Denisovan remains. Instead of only focusing on the few morphologically identifiable human bones, a groundbreaking high-throughput approach will target bulk collections of unidentified bone fragments (n=30,000) from ~20 Asian sites dating to between 100,000-10,000 years. Ultimately, the goal is to expand our understanding of the Denisovans, reveal their geographic range, age, genetic variation and archaeological signature. In addition to solving the puzzles of ancient population history, this research has the potential to decode the patchwork that makes modern humans who we are today, physically, behaviourally and genetically.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Abigail Desmond, Nick Barton, Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, Katerina Douka, Philippe Fernandez, Louise Humphrey, Jacob Morales, Elaine Turner, Michael Buckley
ZooMS identification of bone tools from the North African Later Stone Age
published pages: 149-157, ISSN: 0305-4403, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2018.08.012
Journal of Archaeological Science 98 2020-02-04
2018 Tom Higham, Katerina Douka
Needle in Haystack
published pages: 40-47, ISSN: , DOI:
Scientific American 319(6) 2020-02-04
2019 Oshan Wedage, Noel Amano, Michelle C. Langley, Katerina Douka, James Blinkhorn, Alison Crowther, Siran Deraniyagala, Nikos Kourampas, Ian Simpson, Nimal Perera, Andrea Picin, Nicole Boivin, Michael Petraglia, Patrick Roberts
Specialized rainforest hunting by Homo sapiens ~45,000 years ago
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08623-1
Nature Communications 10/1 2019-09-02
2019 Katerina Douka, Viviane Slon, Zenobia Jacobs, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Michael V. Shunkov, Anatoly P. Derevianko, Fabrizio Mafessoni, Maxim B. Kozlikin, Bo Li, Rainer Grün, Daniel Comeskey, Thibaut Devièse, Samantha Brown, Bence Viola, Leslie Kinsley, Michael Buckley, Matthias Meyer, Richard G. Roberts, Svante Pääbo, Janet Kelso, Tom Higham
Age estimates for hominin fossils and the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic at Denisova Cave
published pages: 640-644, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0870-z
Nature 565/7741 2019-09-02
2019 Katerina Douka, Samantha Brown, Tom Higham, Svante Pääbo, Anatoly Derevianko, Michael Shunkov
FINDER project: collagen fingerprinting (ZooMS) for the identification of new human fossils
published pages: , ISSN: 0003-598X, DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2019.3
Antiquity 93/367 2019-09-02
2018 Viviane Slon, Fabrizio Mafessoni, Benjamin Vernot, Cesare de Filippo, Steffi Grote, Bence Viola, Mateja Hajdinjak, Stéphane Peyrégne, Sarah Nagel, Samantha Brown, Katerina Douka, Tom Higham, Maxim B. Kozlikin, Michael V. Shunkov, Anatoly P. Derevianko, Janet Kelso, Matthias Meyer, Kay Prüfer, Svante Pääbo
The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father
published pages: 113-116, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0455-x
Nature 561/7721 2019-04-18
2017 Katerina Douka, Tom Higham
The Chronological Factor in Understanding the Middle and Upper Paleolithic of Eurasia
published pages: S480-S490, ISSN: 0011-3204, DOI: 10.1086/694173
Current Anthropology 58/S17 2019-02-28
2017 Christopher J. Bae, Katerina Douka, Michael D. Petraglia
On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives
published pages: eaai9067, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9067
Science 358/6368 2019-02-28

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