Filipinos plan more diggings where new human species found

A toe from a member of the species Homo luzonensis recently discovered in the Philippines

At the completion of excavations on the island of Luzon, scientists had unearthed several teeth, part of a thigh bone, and a few hand and foot bones.

Filipino archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares shows a femur bone, one of those they recovered from Callao Cave belonging to a new specie they called Homo luzonensis, during a press conference in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Scientists announced the discovery of a new species of ancient human, Homo luzonensis, on Wednesday.

From these, they can determine that Homo luzonensis would have been pretty similar to us, but also sharing some characteristics with other upright walking apes called australopithecines who were in Africa several million years ago. 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.

It was not initially clear which type of early human that bone came from, but more recently the researchers discovered seven teeth and five different bones at the site, dating back between 50,000 and 67,000 years.

The already entangled branches of human evolution have a new development.

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.

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Excavated in Callao Cave in Luzon island, the specimen is named Homo luzonensis and is dated to 67,000 years ago.

The result is that our understanding of evolution in Asia is "messier, more complicated and a whole lot more interesting", said expert Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Mijares, who led a small team of foreign and local archaeologists behind the rare discovery, said he plans to resume the diggings next year and hopes to find larger fossil bones, artifacts, and possibly stone tools used by people in those times. Australopithecus lived between 2.9 million and 3.9 million years ago. They lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia until about 50,000 years ago. It might have been the newfound species or an ancestor of it, he said in an email.

Mr Détroit said: "Arrival by accident ... is favoured by many scholars, but this is mainly because of arguments like "Homo erectus were not clever enough to cross the sea on purpose".

The sole representative of the first wave was thought to have been Homo erectus, which spread across the globe more than 1.5 million years ago.

The discovery of two unusual species of early human in the past two decades are making paleontologists wonder about the history of humanity.

Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, said the Luzon find "shows we still know very little about human evolution, particularly in Asia".

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