Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

Bones Found in Philippines Cave Reveal Evidence of New Human Cousin

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Elijah Vega | 13 April, 2019, 00:36

Filipino archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares shows bones and teeth they recovered from Callao Cave belonging to a new specie they called Homo luzonensis, in Manila, Philippines April 11, 2019.

And it makes our understanding of human evolution in Asia "messier, more complicated and whole lot more interesting", says one expert, Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Scientists who made the discovery described a cache of seven teeth and six bones from the feet, hands and thigh of at least three individuals in the journal Nature on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. If so, another question is how they arrived at Luzon, a large island that has never been connected to the mainland by a land bridge. Then, after a few hundred-thousand years, our own ancestors dispersed from Africa about 50,000 years ago.

But luzonensis are different from other species due to their distinct premolar teeth which vary considerably from anything identified in the other species belonging to the Homo genus.

The toe bones were curved, which could indicate that the luzonesis was equally adept at walking on two legs and climbing trees.

Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are now the only surviving branch of the genus Homo, other species of humans once roamed across Earth. Although some of the characteristics can be compared to Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, the teeth and jaw features remain distinct as far as the odd features they combine.

The main exodus of our own species from Africa that all of today's non-African people are descended from took place around 60,000 years ago.

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Mijares, who led a small team of foreign and local archaeologists behind the rare discovery, said he plans to resume the diggings next year and hopes to find larger fossil bones, artifacts, and possibly stone tools used by people in those times.

There's no sign that H. luzonensis encountered any other member of the Homo group, Detroit said in an email. Stone tools and butchered remains of a rhinoceros suggested hominin activity on Luzon dating back at least 709,000 years.

"It's a mixture that we haven't seen in other species", said Detroit. And maybe another as-yet unknown creature (other than H. erectus) slipped out of Africa to later give rise to the newly discovered species.

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.

H. erectus is generally considered the first Homo species to have expanded beyond Africa, and it plays a prominent role in the conventional wisdom about evolution outside that continent.

The sole representative of the first wave was thought to have been Homo erectus, which spread across the globe more than 1.5 million years ago. Basically, the newly discovered species is a mix of both older and more recent types of human in terms of physical features.

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