Nearly 40 years after it was found by a monk in a Chinese cave, a fossilized chunk of jawbone has been revealed as coming from a mysterious relative of the Neanderthals.

Until now, the only known remains of these Denisovans were a few scraps of bone and teeth recovered in a Siberian cave. The new discovery was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

That extends the known range of Denisovans, but it’s still not known where they first appeared.

This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows the right half of the Xiahe mandible, found in 1980 in the Baishiya Karst Cave in the Gansu province of China. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, it is at least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude the jaw came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Qiu Menghan/Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)
This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows the right half of the Xiahe mandible, found in 1980 in the Baishiya Karst Cave in the Gansu province of China. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, it is at least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude the jaw came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Qiu Menghan/Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)

The fossil is the right half of a jawbone with teeth. Scientists said it provides new anatomical details that might help them identify other fossils as Denisovan.

This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows the Baishiya Karst Cave above the Jiangla riverbed in the Gansu province of China. It is both a locally famous Buddhist cave and a tourist site. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, a jawbone fragment found in the cave is least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude it came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)
This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows the Baishiya Karst Cave above the Jiangla riverbed in the Gansu province of China. It is both a locally famous Buddhist cave and a tourist site. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, a jawbone fragment found in the cave is least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude it came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)
This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows Jiangla Valley in the Gansu province of China. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, a jawbone fragment found in the area is least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude it came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)
This undated photo made available by Dr. Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University in April 2019 shows Jiangla Valley in the Gansu province of China. According to a report released on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, a jawbone fragment found in the area is least 160,000 years old, and recovered proteins led scientists to conclude it came from a Denisovan, a relative of Neanderthals. (Dongju Zhang/Lanzhou University via AP)

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