The Discovery in Tibet
Possibly a Relative of Mine

My three favorite places in the world are Myanmar, Scotland, and Tibet. In each destination, I have traveled to each place twice. Additionally, each country has to do with my family. This essay isn’t about my family in Taunggyi, Myanmar nor my relatives that stayed in Scotland when some of the others came to America. This article is about some very distant relatives who live in Tibet about 160,000 years ago.

The Cave

This essay is about a local Tibetan monk who happened upon a part of a jaw or mandible of ancient relative of homo sapiens. The Denisovans and Neanderthals split off from each other ca. 400,000 years ago. We emerged 200,000 years ago and many of our predecessors intermingled with Neanderthals. The monk had discovered was the jaw of a Denisovan. Denisovans lived in other places in Asia and Australasia. However, the mandible was found over 1,400 miles from the closest known spot for Denisovans, which was in a cave in Siberia.

The two caves…in Siberia and Tibet

This discovery could explain why the Sherpas and Tibetans in general have the lung capacity that allows them to function in very high altitudes.


The jaw was found around 10,760 feet above sea level. Perhaps, this Denisovan’s jawbone might have been one of my very distant relatives.

However, on my first trip to Tibet, I went in a SUV from Kathmandu to Lhasa, which took several days. However, on my second trip, I flew into Lhasa. For the next day, I had altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is ten times worse than food poisoning. I’d take food poisoning anytime over altitude sickness. In addition, altitude sickness lasts much longer. Do you think that I am exaggerating regarding my medical issue? This is my diagnosis and treatment plan. The second was my doctor’s bill and medicine. This was before Obamacare.

Probably, that Tibetan Denisovan was a very, very, very distant relative of mine.