Bones found in Philippines may belong to previously unknown human relative

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 11, 2019

The specimens of fossilized bone and teeth found in the cave were estimated to be 50,000-67,000 years old, suggesting this human cousin roamed the earth relatively recently on the evolutionary calendar.

The discovery of remains of at least three individuals from this species, named Homo luzonensis, in Callao Cave on the northern part of the island of Luzon, marked the second time in the 21st century that a bygone member of the human family has been found on southeast Asian islands. But he said the Philippines discovery gives new credence to an alternate view: Maybe some unknown creature other than H. erectus also slipped out of Africa and into Europe and Asia, and later gave rise to both island species.

The "remarkable discovery. will no doubt ignite plenty of scientific debate over the coming weeks, months and years", said Matthew Tocheri, associate professor of anthropology at Canada's Lakehead University, in a review commissioned by Nature.

The researchers from France, the Philippines and Australia found the remains in the Callo Cave, where a bone dating back 67,000 years was discovered in 2007.

It's becoming clear to experts that early humans came in a lot more shapes and sizes than they once thought.

In particular, the teeth they found had a surprising combination of elements from different early humans.

"It's a mixture that we haven't seen in other species", said Detroit.

"And that was what told us, among other things, that this doesn't correspond to what we know today, so we have described a new species".

"Arrival by accident ... is favored by many scholars, but this is mainly because of arguments like "Homo erectus were not clever enough to cross the sea on purpose", said Détroit.

As per the Guardian, it was once thought that humans only left Africa about 1.5 million years ago, when a large-bodied ancient human called Homo erectus set off on a dispersal that ultimately allowed it to occupy territory spanning Africa and Spain, China and Indonesia.

The discovery of Homo luzonensis "provides yet more evidence that hints that H. erectus might not have been the only globe-trotting early hominin", wrote Tocheri.

All species of human, both living and extinct, are believed to have originated in Africa.

In particular, the newly discovered luzonensis has a foot bone that is unlike any of its known human contemporaries but closely resembles those of a human species known to have existed in Africa around two to three million years earlier.

Although they could walk upright, the creatures' feet were specially shaped for tree-climbing, combining primitive and more advanced anatomical traits.

One theory holds that the peculiar features of luzonensis and its island cousin floresiensis could be the result of their habitat, with the unique and isolated surroundings prompting them to evolve characteristics reminiscent of their ancient forebears.

"Our picture of hominin evolution in Asia. just got even messier, more complicated and a whole lot more interesting".

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