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Photo: Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University/American Association for the Advancement of Science

The confirmation a 160,000-year-old fossilized jaw unearthed in Tibet belongs to the Denisovans, a species distinct from modern humans and Neanderthals, sheds new light on the hominid and indicates another link to Himalayan people.

Details: A Buddhist monk found half of the lower jaw of the Denisovans, an extinct sister group of Neanderthals, in a cave in the 1980s. He gave it to a local religious leader before it reached scientists, who studied it for 9 years. Previous bone fragment discoveries and DNA analysis led to the hypothesis that the Denisovans lived near Siberia, but the new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, confirms the Denisovans were more widespread.

The big picture: Previous genetic studies found present-day Himalayan populations —including the Sherpa, known for their speed-climbing records — carry a gene adaptation passed on to them by Denisovans, which helps them to adapt to high altitudes, but this is the first time the hominid has been found in such an environment.

What they're saying: "Archaic hominins occupied the Tibetan Plateau in the Middle Pleistocene and successfully adapted to high-altitude low-oxygen environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens," Lanzhou University scientist Dongju Zhang said in a news release.

Go deeper

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.