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New species of ancient human discovered in the Philippines

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Named “Homo luzonensis”, the species is one of the most important finds that will be out in the coming years, scientists predict.

Researchers in the Philippines announced today they have discovered a species of ancient human previously unknown to science.

The small-bodied hominin, named Homo luzonensis, lived on the island of Luzon at least 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. The hominin—identified from a total of seven teeth and six small bones—hosts a patchwork of ancient and more advanced features. The landmark discovery, announced in Nature on Wednesday, makes Luzon the third Southeast Asian island in the last 15 years to bear signs of unexpectedly ancient human activity.

“For a long, long time, the Philippine islands [have] been more or less left [out],” says study coauthor and project leader Armand Mijares, an archaeologist at the University of the Philippines Diliman and a National Geographic grantee. But H. luzonensis flips the script, and it continues to challenge the outdated idea that the human line neatly progressed from less advanced to more advanced species.

The analysis of 13 fossil remains (teeth, phalanges of foot and hand, fragments of femur) found in the cave of Callao, led scientists to consider that it was a new unknown species.

Photo: AFP

The new species presents at the same time elements or very primitive characters similar to those of the Australopithecus and others, modern, close to those of the Homo sapiens”. Florent Détroit, paleoanthropologist

Homo luzonensis would have been small
This Homo luzonensis “was probably small, judging by the size of its teeth,” although “it is not a sufficient argument,” said paloanthropologist Florent Détroit, a researcher at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and lead author of the study. The Homo luzonensis, which is not a direct ancestor of modern man, would be a neighboring species, contemporary of Homo sapiens, but with a number of primitive characteristics. Two of the fossils discovered were analyzed with the method of dating by uranium series and are 50 thousand years ago and 67 thousand years respectively.

The Yucatan Times

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