Archaeologists Found New Unknown Human Species in Philippine Cave
Human remains were found on Luzon, Republic of the Philippines. They pertain to the genus Homo, but the species is unclear. It was ascertained, that this species lived more than 50 thousand years ago. Researchers have already named it Homo luzonensis.
The research began upon a foot bone, which was found in 2007 in Callao’s Cave on Luzon. The oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, found on Palawan Island, were dated to 30,000-40,000 years ago. But this mysterious leg is “older”; it goes back to 67 thousand years ago.
Florent Detroit, the archaeologist at the French National Museum of Natural History, says, that this leg is the very first hominid, which has been ever found there.
This year the international research team has found twelve other pieces of ancient people in the same stratigraphic layer of Callao Cave.
Among them are foot bones, hand bones, femur, and teeth, which are believed to belong to three people – two adults and a child.
Detroit explains that the fossils are different from our bones and the bones of other known human species. Their premolar teeth have features similar to ones of Australopithecus and Homo erectus. At the same time, their molars are smaller and have a shape akin to Homo sapiens’ molars.
The foot bones, in particular, the phalanxes, are much more curved than ours. So it could be suggested that these people may have been good climbers.
These phalanxes are very similar to phalanxes of Australopithecus, inhabited only in Africa in much more ancient periods (about 2-3 million years ago). A human with such characteristics couldn’t be relegated to any of the known species, Detroit sums up.
The scientists are not surprised by the anatomical features of the new species, as they are caused by prolonged isolation. The archaeologist Philip Piper likens to the Galapagos Islands, where each island has its own turtle species.
The researchers have no idea how these people could have reached the island. It’s suggested that migration could have been caused by natural disasters, for example, a tsunami. The same, apparently, could have happened with some species of animals.
Rainer Grün, the archaeo-geochemist at Griffith University, conducted uranium-thorium research of the bones. It shows that the remains are about 50,000 years old. So, this is a completely new kind of hominid.
Because of new fossils’ tiny size, it could be suggested that this is another dwarf species, such as Homo floresiensis, better known as the “hobbit”, which has been discovered on Indonesia island. But the clear species’ height is difficult to determine due to the insufficient number of bones.
Unfortunately, the extraction of DNA from these fossils has not yet been successful. So there is not enough evidence to determine where Homo luzonensis is in the human genealogical tree. But Detroit has a hunch. He supposed that Homo luzonensis could come from some Asian Homo erectus, perhaps Chinese Homo erectus.
But some experts are skeptical about the unknown remains.
Susan Anton, the anthropologist at New York University, has noted that there is no reason to speak about the new species until at least one skull is found.
Finds of the last decades indicate that evolution has taken different paths, groups of hominids around the world have adapted to new conditions. These results also recall that a few thousand years ago, Homo sapiens were definitely not alone on the Earth.
Now excavations on the island continue, and the archaeologists expect to find the rest of the skeleton.
And what do you think about all this?