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40,000 years ago, we were not the only species of humans in the world. There were at least four others that we know of, and three of these have only become known to us in the last twenty years. These included the Neanderthals, our close cousins, who occupied Europe and the Near East and parts of Eurasia, and the enigmatic ‘Hobbits’, Homo floresiensis from the island of Flores, discovered in 2003. In April 2019, Homo luzonesis was added to the list, a hominin found in the Philippines, and even more diminutive than the Hobbits at less than four feet high. Finally, another addition to our human family – the focus of this book – was discovered in 2010 and only exists in physical form at the site of Denisova Cave in Siberia. The book will also explore whether afifth species, Homo erectus, might also have survived into this period. 40,000 years ago, the world was a veritable ‘Middle Earth’. The human family was ‘we’ rather than just ‘us’.

The World Before Us will take us on the extraordinary journey that scientists have undertaken to make these discoveries, with the focus on Denisovans identified from tiny fragments of bone and teeth from a cave in Siberia. It delves into the cutting edge science, research and techniques that have transformed our understanding of the human story and gives us a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a leading scientist at the forefront of these world- changing discoveries.

This is the story of us, told for the first time, with its full cast of characters.