It has been nearly 200 years since we became aware of the Neanderthals, an extinct form of humans that once shared Europe and Asia with the modern humans. But it has been less than two years since we discovered that the Neanderthals were not the only archaic modern human around at the time. In short order, researchers in Germany produced a draft of the Denisova genome, which showed that the ancestors of some modern human populations had interbred with the Denisovans at some point in the past.
However, the genome sequence that was published in 2010 was only a draft, which is expected to contain errors and areas of very poor coverage. The folks at the Max Planck Institute have continued sequencing away, though, and have greatly expanded their coverage of the Denisova genome; they’re apparently preparing a paper to describe the expanded sequence right now. But to keep the research community from waiting for the paper to clear peer review, they’ve decided to release the sequence, both on the Max Planck website and through Amazon’s web services. The release includes both the raw sequence itself, as well as alignments to the human and chimp genomes.
To protect their ability to publish a paper, the Max Planck team is releasing the sequence under a license that prohibits anyone else from doing an analysis of the complete genome. But anyone interested in looking at specific genes is able to do their analysis without waiting. People interested in doing something in between these two extremes are invited to get in touch with Svante Pääbo, who is directing the work, to sort out an agreement.