Posted on 12 Apr 2019
"It's quite incredible, the extremities, that is, the bones of the hand and foot are remarkably similar to those of the Australopithecus. The Australopithecus traveled the Earth for the last time in Africa about 2 million years ago and are considered the ancestors of the Homo group, which includes modern humans, "said Philip Piper of the University Australian National University (ANU).
An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of a new human species in the Philippines, proving that the region has played a key role in the evolutionary history of hominins. The new species, Homo luzonensis, owes its name to the island of Luzon, where fossils of more than 50 000 years were discovered during excavations in the cave of Callao.
Piper, co-author and senior member of the team, says these findings represent a major breakthrough in our understanding of human evolution in Southeast Asia. The researchers found the remains of at least two adults and one juvenile in the same archaeological sites.
"The fossil remains included adult finger and toe bones, as well as teeth. We also recovered the femur of a child. There are some really interesting features – for example, the teeth are really small, "said Professor Piper.
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"The size of the teeth in general, although not always, reflects the size of the body of a mammal. We therefore think that Homo luzonensis was probably relatively small. We do not yet know how small we are. We would need to find skeletal elements from which we could more accurately measure the size of our body, "said Professor Piper. "So the question is whether some of these features have evolved in the form of adaptations to island life, or whether they are anatomical traits transmitted to Homo luzonensis by their ancestors over the course of 2 million years preceding. "
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Although there are still many questions about the origins of Homo luzonensis and their longevity on the island of Luzon, recent excavations conducted near the Callao cave have highlighted a rhinoceros and cut stone tools dating back about 700,000 years.
"No hominin fossils have been recovered, but this provides a delay for the presence of hominin in Luzon. Whether it is Homo luzonensis skinning and eating the rhinoceros remains to be determined, "said Professor Piper.
"It makes the whole region really meaningful. The Philippines consists of a group of large islands that have been separated long enough to have potentially facilitated archipelago speciation. There is no reason for archaeological research in the Philippines not to discover several species of hominins. It's probably just a matter of time.
Homo luzonensis shares unique traits with the famous Homo floresiensis or "hobbit" found on the island of Flores southeast of the Philippine archipelago.
In addition, stone tools dating back about 200,000 years were found on the island of Sulawesi, which means that ancient hominins have potentially inhabited many of the larger southeast islands Asian.
The project team was led by Dr. Armand Mijares of the University of the Philippines and included Dr. Florent Detroit from the National Museum of Natural History of Paris and researchers from the University of Bordeaux , Paul Sabatier University and the University of Poitiers in France. as well as Griffith University in Australia.
The Daily Galaxy via ANU and Nature
Image at the top of the page: Australopithecus with Darryl De Rutter