In China, a huge fossilized skull is hinting to a new human species, and its highly likely that it may become the closest relative to human.
The fossil found is of the new human species named the “Dragon Man” or “Homo longi” by the Chinese researchers. It which was wrapped up and hidden in a Chinese well nearly 90 years ago. Upon analyzing the fossilized skull, it revealed a new branch of the human family tree, and is said to be the closest to human species replacing the Neanderthals.
According to the reports, the skull of Dragon Man could belong to a previously unknown sister group, which is more closely related to modern humans than the Neanderthals.
Professor Chris Stringer, the research leader at the Natural History Museum in London, who worked on the project told, “I think this is one of the most important finds of the past 50 years… It’s a wonderfully preserved fossil.”
The professor of paleontology at Hebei GEO University, Professor Qiang Ji, led a team drew on geochemical techniques to dig more details about the fossil. They found the bones to at least 146,000 years old. The size of the skull is determined to be 23cm long and more than 15cm wide, which is way larger than the modern human skull. The features found by the researchers included almost square eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth, and oversized teeth.
The skull is believed to be derived from approximately 50 years old male, who lived in a forested, floodplain environment as part of a small community.
Qiang Ji told, “The Harbin fossil is one of the most complete human cranial fossils in the world. This fossil preserved many morphological details that are critical for understanding the evolution of the Homo genus and the origin of Homo sapiens.”
Qiang Ji also explained the features of the skull, which was reportedly discovered in the Harbin City of the Heilongjiang province of China in the 1930s. He told, “While it shows typical archaic human features, the Harbin cranium presents a mosaic combination of primitive and derived characters setting itself apart from all the other previously-named Homo species,”
Prof Stringer said, “We see multiple evolutionary lineages of Homo species and populations co-existing in Asia, Africa, and Europe during that time. So, if Homo sapiens indeed got to East Asia that early, they could have a chance to interact with H. longi, and since we don’t know when the Harbin group disappeared, there could have been later encounters as well,”