The Coming of the Thunder People: Denisovan Hybrids, Shamanism and the American Genesis
In 2010 the existence of a previously unknown archaic human population was revealed following the DNA sequencing of a finger bone over 41,000 years old. It was discovered in 2008 in the Denisova Cave, a Stone Age site located in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. Three molars, two of enormous size, were also retrieved. They too belong to this same group of archaic humans, who are today known as the Denisovans.
Map showing the distribution of Denisovan DNA in modern populations based on the Altaic Denisovan genome (after Sankararaman et al 2016). Black circles 3-5 %. Grey circles with black rings 2-3 %. Grey circles 1-2 &. Values are approximate only. Black rings indicate locations of more recent discoveries of Denisovan ancestry (Image: Courtesy of Author).
Although to date these remain the only confirmed fossils relating to this extinct population, the sequencing of the Denisovan genome by the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, determined that many modern-day human populations carry Denisovan ancestry. Most of these populations are located in central, southern and eastern Asia. Others are found among the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.
What about the Americas? Did the Denisovans’ impact on the continent prior to the submergence of the Beringia land-bridge around 8500 BC, which for tens of thousands of years had provided safe passage between the Russian Far East and Alaska?
Various First Peoples in both North and South America possess significant levels of Denisovan DNA. This includes the Ojibwa, one of the largest tribes in North America. Their territories extend from Ontario in Canada down through the Great Lakes region into Minnesota and Wisconsin. Originally, their homeland was far to the east in the St Lawrence River basin (current Quebec). The Cree (or Oji-Cree) also possess Denisovan DNA, although not quite to the same level as the Ojibwa. Their ancestral home was immediately to the north and west of the Ojibwa in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories.
Both the Ojibwa and Cree form part of what is known as the Algonquian language-speaking group, named after the Algonquin or Algonkin tribe. This collective of First Nations refer to themselves as the Anishinaabe (plural Anishinaabeg), meaning, ‘original people’ with a shared language known as Anishinaabemowin.
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Andrew Collins is one of the world’s foremost experts on Göbekli Tepe, having first visited the site in 2004. He has been investigating its Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture for over 20 years, and is the author of various books that feature the subject including From the Ashes of Angels (1996), The Cygnus Mystery (2006) and Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods (2014). Path of Souls: The Native American Death Journey (2014 Gregory Little) and The Cygnus Key: The Denisovan Legacy, Göbekli Tepe and the Birth of Egypt. (2018). His website is www.andrewcollins.com.
Top Image: Thunderbird Shaman. (Deriv Liz Leafloor)