14.04.2019
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There were more of us than we thought!

A new species of human was discovered in the Philippine cave

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During excavations in the Philippines, scientists discovered bones and teeth of a presumably new species of man. Based on fragments of bones and teeth found on the island of Luzon, the researchers established that our distant relatives were just over a meter tall and had several APE-like features.

Archaeologist Armand Salvador Mijares made the first discovery in 2007. He was excavating a cave in Callao and found a finger bone. «There’s something wrong with that bone»,- he told NPR, and continued digging.

Callao caves on the island of Luzon, where scientists discovered the remains of ancient people (Photo: archaeologists of the Callao cave)

In the study published in the journal Nature, scientists describe a finding of seven teeth and six bones that belonged to at least three human individuals. They were found in the cave in 2007, 2011 and 2015. Tests on two samples determined the approximate age of the fossils which was 50 000-67 000 years. This finding is another reminder that we, Homo sapiens, are the only surviving species of our branch on the evolutionary tree.

A range of upper teeth of Homo luzonensis (Photo: archaeologists of the Callao cave)

Expert Matthew Tohiri of the University of Lakehead in thunder Bay (Ontario), says that the discovery makes the origin of man in Asia «more confusing, more complex and much more interesting».

Analysis of bones from Luzon showed that they belonged to a previously unknown link Homo of our branch of the family tree. According to the researchers, the type and shape of the bones are different from what was found earlier in the family Homo. The new species was given the name Homo luzonensis.

Toe bone belonging to Homo luzonensis (Photo: archaeologists of the Callao cave)

One of the authors of the study, Florent Detroit from the National Museum of natural history in Paris, reported that the found species of man used stone tools. Since the teeth found were small, the species most likely had a small height.

Luzonensis Homo were living in Eastern Asia about the same time as other members of the branch of Homo, including Neanderthals, their obscure Siberian cousins the denisovans and hobbits miniature from the island of Flores in Indonesia.

There is no indication that Homo luzonensis has crossed paths with any other member of the Homo group, Detroit pointed out in an email to the Associated Press. He added that some human relative had been on Luzon more than 700,000 years ago, as evidenced by the presence of stone tools and the found skeleton of a butchered rhinoceros Dating back to the same time. It could be a new species or its ancestor.

It is not clear how Homo luzonensis is related to other Homo species. The species could have originated from an earlier human ancestor, Homo erectus, who somehow crossed the sea and ended up in Luzon.

Michael Petraglia of the German max Planck Institute believes that the discovery of Luzon «shows that we still know very little about human evolution, especially in Asia». More such discoveries are likely to emerge during further work in a region that has not yet been sufficiently explored.

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