‘Dragon Man’: scientists say new human species is our closest ancestor


Scientists introduced on Friday {that a} cranium found in northeast China represents a newly found human species they’ve named Homo longi, or “Dragon Man” — they usually say the lineage ought to exchange Neanderthals as our closest family.

The Harbin skull was found within the Thirties within the metropolis of the identical title in Heilongjiang province, however was reportedly hidden in a nicely for 85 years to guard it from the Japanese military.

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

“On our analyses, the Harbin group is extra intently linked to H sapiens than the Neanderthals are — that’s, Harbin shared a more moderen frequent ancestor with us than the Neanderthals did,” co-author Chris Stringer of the Pure Historical past Museum, London advised AFP.

“If these are thought to be distinct species, then that is our sister (most intently associated) species.”

The findings have been printed in three papers within the journal The Innovation.

The cranium dates again at the very least 146,000 years, inserting it within the Center Pleistocene.

It may maintain a mind comparable in measurement to that of contemporary people however with bigger eye sockets, thick forehead ridges, a large mouth and outsized tooth.

“Whereas it reveals typical archaic human options, the Harbin skull presents a mosaic mixture of primitive and derived characters setting itself other than all the opposite beforehand named Homo species,” stated Ji, a co-author of the research.

The title is derived from Lengthy Jiang, which accurately means “Dragon River.”

The staff consider the skull belonged to a male, round 50 years previous, residing in a forested floodplain.

“This inhabitants would have been hunter-gatherers, residing off the land,” stated Stringer. “From the winter temperatures in Harbin immediately, it appears to be like like they have been dealing with even harsher cold than the Neanderthals.”

Given the situation the place the cranium was discovered in addition to the large-sized man it implies, the staff consider H longi might have been nicely tailored for harsh environments and would have been in a position to disperse all through Asia.

Household tree

Researchers first studied the exterior morphology of the skull utilizing over 600 traits, after which ran tens of millions of simulations utilizing a pc mannequin to construct timber of relatedness to different fossils.

“These recommend that Harbin and another fossils from China type a 3rd lineage of later people alongside the Neanderthals and H sapiens,” defined Stringer.

If Homo sapiens had reached East Asia on the time Homo longi was current, they may have interbred, although this isn’t clear.

There are additionally many answered questions on their tradition and expertise stage, due to an absence of archaeological materials.

However the discovering may nonetheless reshape our understanding of human evolution.

“It establishes a 3rd human lineage in East Asia with its personal evolutionary historical past and reveals how essential the area was for human evolution,” stated Stringer.


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