Archeologists Find Another New Human Species in Philippine Cave

tooth of skull

Our family tree has become more labyrinthine, reminding us how little we really know about our species’ evolution, as archeologists have discovered a new human ancestor in the Philippines, who stood under three feet tall. The new hominin has been named Homo luzonensis after the island of Luzon where it was discovered in an excavation at Callou cave.

The island of Luzon has been a hotbed for archeological discoveries related to ancient human ancestors, including last year’s unearthing of 700,000-year-old stone tools used by human ancestors – a discovery that changed our understanding of hominid migration out of Eurasia and into southeast Asia by about half a million years.

Many have drawn parallels of the latest discovery to the dwarf-like human ancestor Homo floresiensis discovered on the nearby Indonesian island of Flores in 2004. This controversial “hobbit” ancestor of ours sparked intense debate as to whether it was a direct or distinctly separate ancestor, and now luzonensis finds itself in a similar debate.

But as the contention over this archaic hominin lineage plays out in academic circles, its implications on the course of our progression and alleged timeline could be profound.

luzonensis toe bone

Homo luzonensis toe bone courtesy Callou Cave Archeology Project

 

Instead of the stereotypical depiction of Darwinian evolution from knuckle-dragging ape to erect, bipedal human, it seems the paths of our ancestral origin splayed in a number of directions creating various iterations across the world.

One of the distinctive features of luzonensis is seen in the three roots found in some of its teeth – an uncommon trait seen in a small percent of modern humans, but more commonly found in other hominid ancestors like australopithecines, according to National Geographic

A row of H. luzonensis teeth courtesy Callou Cave Archeology Project

 

Scientists involved in the dig say it’s unclear whether luzonensis interbred with other hominins to create hybrid species like the recently discovered Denisovan-Neanderthal hybrid found in Siberia’s Denisova cave late last year.

But with the close proximity of H. floresiensis and H. luzonensis one has to wonder whether their paths ever crossed, whether one was a branch of the other, and what role their interaction had, if any, on Homo sapiens today.

Further digging is underway at the Callou cave to find more evidence of this mysterious and tiny human ancestor, as archeologists say they need more proof to confirm it as a distinct species.

With the multitude of recent groundbreaking archeological discoveries, including the missing ghost ancestor of humans, it seems we’re learning more and more that the traditional timeline of human evolution is drastically different from what we’ve been told.

Denisovans: They Might Be Giants


Human 'Hobbit' Ancestor May Still Be Alive in Indonesian Jungles

Homo floresiensis human hobbit ancestor living in Indonesia

Could an ancient human species still be alive deep in the forests of Indonesia? An award-winning anthropologist thinks that might be the case.

On the Indonesian island of Flores, some locals tell tales of an animal that is like a human but is not human. Some say they are extinct, others claim to have seen them with their own eyes. Anthropologist Gregory Forth, who lived with and studied the people of the island for decades, calls this creature the “Apeman.” 

For years it was an interesting story, but as many anthropologists will tell you, stories like this are often allegory or a way to explain the natural world. But in 2004, the anthropological world was shaken when the “hobbit” skeleton was found. This was a tiny species of hominin. A rebuilt skeleton stands at just 3’7,” but apparently lived at the same time as early modern humans.

The tale of the relationship between oral histories and the fossils, dubbed Homo floresiensis, is the subject of Forth’s new book, “Between Ape and Human.”

Forth, now retired, was a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta for more than three decades. He first heard of the “Apeman” from the “Lio” people of Flores in the 1980s.

But what about this story sounded like it might be true?  

“It’s the way that people were describing them as animals, as a kind of animal — not human beings by the way, the distinction is very important for them as it is for most people. But at the same time they’re beings that walked erect unlike any other animal, and otherwise looked humanlike, although they were very small (or they are very small), and somewhat hairier.”  

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