Scientists say the new human species is our closest ancestor : A skull preserved almost perfectly for more than 140,000 years in - northeastern China represents a new species of ancient people more closely related to us than even Neanderthals - and could fundamentally alter our understanding of human evolution, scientists announced Friday.

It belongs to a large-brained male in his 50s with deep set eyes and thick brow ridges. Though his face was wide, it had flat, low cheekbones that made him resemble modern people more closely than other extinct members of the human family tree.

The research team has linked the specimen  to other Chinese fossil findings and is calling the species  Homo longi or ''Dragon Man,'' a reference to the region where it was discovered.

The Harbin cranium was first found in 1933 in the city of the same name but was reportedly hidden in a well for 85 years to protect it from the Japanese army.

It was later dug up and handed to Ji Qiang, a professor at Hebel GEO University in 2018.

'' On our analyses, the Harbin Group is more closely linked to H. sapiens than the Neanderthals are - that is, Harbin shared a more recent common ancestor with us than the Neanderthals did,'' co-author   Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, London told AFP.

This, he said, would make Dragon Man our ''sister species'' and a closer ancestor of modern man than the Neanderthals.

The findings were published in three papers in the journal The Innovation.

The skull dates back to at least 146,000 years, placing it in the Middle Pleistocene.

'' While it shows typical archaic human features, the  Harbin cranium presents a mosaic combination of primitive and derived characters setting itself apart from all other previously named Homeo species,'' said Ji, who led the research.

The name is derived from Ling Jiang, which literally means ''Dragon River.''

Dragon Man probably lived in a forested floodplain environment as part of a small community.

'' This population would have been hunter-gatherers, living off the land,'' said Stringer. ''From the winter temperatures in Harbin today, it looks like they were coping with even harsher cold than the Neanderthals.''

Given the location where the skull was found as well as the large-seized man it implies, the team believes H. Longi may have been well adapted for harsh environments and would have been able to disperse throughout Asia. [AFP]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!