Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Bones from Philippines cave reveal a new human species

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Cary Marshall | 12 April, 2019, 03:54

There are 13 bones, little more than a scattering in a cave in the Philippines. "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".

The discovery of a new human relative on Luzon might be "smoke from a much, much bigger fire", he said. So the team spent another eight years studying the bones and teeth.

It was a different story 50,000 years ago, when several varieties of hominin co-existed.

This undated photo provided by the Callao Cave Archaeology Project in April 2019 shows Callao Cave on Luzon Island of the Philippines, where the fossils of Homo luzonensis were discovered. The size and shape of the teeth are definitely human, but the fossils possessed features that suggest they do not belong to any other known human lineage. They look more like what one what might find in Africa 1.5 to 2.5 million years ago, and which might have been carried out of that continent by the mystery species, he said.

One question is: Were these creatures related to the Hobbits (no, not the movie characters).

One scientist, Professor Chris Stringer, from the National History Museum, said: "After the remarkable finds of the diminutive Homo floresiensis were published in 2004, I said that the experiment in human evolution conducted on Flores could have been repeated on numerous other islands in the region".

It remains uncertain who the ancestors of Homo luzonensis and Homo floresiensis were. They, too, had a surprising mix of primitive and humanlike bones and teeth.

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.

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Paleoanthropologist Matt Tocheri at Lakehead University in Canada is an expert on the Hobbits.

"One thing can be said for certain", wrote Tocheri. It might have been the newfound species or an ancestor of it, he said in an email. Homo erectus spread through Asia and Europe.

Although they could walk upright, the creatures' feet were specially shaped for tree-climbing, combining primitive and more advanced anatomical traits. As they evolved, some of their physical traits became more like those of modern humans - some of the teeth, for example.

It apparently used stone tools and its small teeth suggest it might have been rather small-bodied, said one of the study authors, Florent Detroit of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. He says evolution plays some unusual tricks, especially on organisms that live in isolation.

A visual evidence of an enormous black hole that can easily gobble up the solar system and a discovery new hominid species, Homo luzonensis, which puts the Philippines in the archeological map where prehistoric men roamed.

"That's where it gets exciting", Tocheri says. They were also perceived to be a climber of trees due to their curved fingers and toes, as evidenced through their bones.

With two oddball species of early human turning up in the past two decades, paleontologists are wondering what the findings mean for the history of humanity.

"For years - and until less than 20 years ago - human evolution in Asia was seen as very simple, with Homo erectus going out of Africa, settling in east and southeast Asia, and then nothing happened until the arrival of Homo sapiens at around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago and its "conquest" of every region on Earth", Mr Détroit said.

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