Bones found in a Filipino cave reveal a previously unknown species of human which existed around 50,000 years ago.
A new species of tiny human which lived at the same time as our Homo sapiens ancestors has been discovered by archaeologists.
The discovery of the "Hobbit" fossil, representing the hominin species Homo floresiensis, on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004, proved some of these experiments made their way to the isolated laboratories of Southeast Asian islands. Around that time, east Asia was also occupied by our own species as well as Neanderthals and some other human relatives. But he said the Philippines discovery gives new credence to an alternate view: Maybe some unknown creature other than H. erectus also slipped out of Africa and into Europe and Asia, and later gave rise to both island species.
In a paper presented Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers said two of the specimens were at least 50,000 years and 67,000 years old.
"The evolution of Homo is getting weirder and weirder", Rick Potts, head of the human origins program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, told NPR.
The species, dubbed Homo luzonensis after the island of Luzon where its remains were found, is not a direct ancestor of modern day humans, but rather a distant ancient relative.
Other excavations on Luzon suggest the more modern hominin species, the Denisovans, also called the Philippine island home.
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The discovery makes our understanding of human evolution in Asia "messier, more complicated and whole lot more interesting", one expert, Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, told the Associated Press.
"We now know that it was a much more complex evolutionary history, with several distinct species contemporaneous with Homo sapiens, interbreeding events, extinctions", said Florent Détroit, the study's main author and an anthropologist with the Natural History Museum in Paris. In a study released on Thursday, April 10, 2019, scientists report that tests on two samples from the species show minimum ages of 50,000 years and 67,000 years.
They are now the earliest human remains found in the Philippines.
The discovery of Homo luzonensis "provides yet more evidence that hints that H. erectus might not have been the only globe-trotting early hominin", wrote Tocheri.
So far archaeologists have found fossil hand and foot bones, a thigh bone and seven.
There's a new addition to the family tree: an extinct species of human that's been found in the Philippines. They look more like what one what might find in Africa 1.5 to 2.5 million years ago, and which might have been carried out of that continent by the mystery species, he said. But other researchers have argued that the Hobbits were descended from Homo erectus but that some of their anatomy reverted to a more primitive state.