Everyone, gather ’round and welcome a new, long lost member of the human family; the Homo Luzonensis. Beneath the rocky floor of Callao Cave in Luzon Island in the Philippines researchers uncovered fossils of a previously unknown ancient human species now dubbed as Homo Luzonnensis. The newfound teeth and bones combine primitive and modern traits in a way never previously seen together in one species. This ancient species lived on the island of Luzon at least 50,000 to 67,000 years ago.
Although modern humans, Home sapiens, are now the only surviving branch of the genus Homo, other species of humans once roamed across Earth. Homo erectus, the most likely ancestor of modern humans, made its way out of Africa by at least 1.8 million years ago. But the discovery of Homo Luzonnensis adds another twist to the increasingly complex timeline of human evolution. The more fossils we find, the more we learn that many kinds of humans have lived on Earth.
Homo Luzonnensis has some physical similarities to recent humans, but in other features, they are similar to the upright walking ape-like creatures that lived in Africa between two and four million years ago, as well as very early members of the Homo genus. Their finger and toe bones are curved, suggesting climbing trees was still an important activity for this species. Homo Luzonnensis were also small, just under four feet tall.
The discovery has left scientists with numerous questions such as:
-How Homo Luzonnensis got to the island int he first place. This would have required a significant sea crossing from the mainland. Until recently it was assumed that all hominids outside fo Africa had evolved from Homo erectus. But the new findings suggest other types of hominids may also have left Africa. Researchers have yet to determine which of the early humans Homo Luzonensis descended from. Although DNS is unlikely to survive in the damp climate, archaeologists believe they may be able to find proteins in the bones that could show the relationship between Homo Luzonnensis and other human-like species. It is the 4th time that scientists identified a distinct human-like species in the past 15 years. In 2003, fossils of another island-dwelling species called Homo floresiensis were unearthed. responded much as Mark did.
They are thought to have survived from there at least 100,000 years ago until 50,0000 years ago potentially overlapping with the arrival of modern humans.
Mysterious Denisovans, identified as a species based on a finger bone in 2010, lived in Siberia. Home Naledi skeletons, with strange mixes of modern and primitive features, were pulled out of an African cave in 2013.
The story of human evolution began about seven million years ago when the lineages that lead to Homo sapiens and chimpanzees separated. These newfound species show that human evolution was highly versatile, as groups adapted to unfamiliar conditions around the world.
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Modern humans were not alone — our close kin survived until fairly recently and some of our co-inhabitants possibly embarked on long sea voyages, suggesting similar levels of intelligence. As we continue to make these discoveries and find long-lost relatives, the human family tree will become more connected, and the mysteries of our origins may one day vanish.