New hominin fossil found in China

Science in the news story of the day.

Evidently a guy hid this fossil in a well in the 30s and told his family on his deathbed to go find it again.

The well-preserved skullcap, found in the Chinese city of Harbin, is between 138,000 and 309,000 years old, according to geochemical analysis, and it combines primitive features, such as a broad nose and low brow and braincase, with those that are more similar to Homo sapiens, including flat and delicate cheekbones.

“The Harbin skull is the most important fossil I’ve seen in 50 years. It shows how important East Asia and China is in telling the human story,” said Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at The Natural History Museum in London and coauthor of the research.

Researchers named the new hominin Homo longi, which is derived from Heilongjiang, or Black Dragon River, the province where the cranium was found.


Interesting that it had been hidden for so long.

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I knew I had seen that earlier, but I forgot the source. Thanks, @beaglelady.

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Along with the find in Israel this is the family tradition after the adaptive radiation of H. erectus, our parent species. Were all these - twelve - sibling, cousin and nefling species and sub-species in the ark as unclean animals?

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First I don’t think the Ark has anything to do with this. The Ark if it existed was only a few thousand years ago. The fossils of pre- human hominids are far far older and likely to have been extinct long before.

Ooooooh! How can that be? Unless everything happened?

its quite simple
Hominid evolution happened over the space of about 14-16million years with modern humans (Homo sapiens) emerging in Africa about 300,000 years ago and moving into Asia and Europe.
The timeline for advanced human civilisations is within the last 20,000 years. We do not know the reason for extinctions of earlier forms of human and it is possible there was some degree of overlap and co-existence.

Why wouldn’t I know that it is?

The Harbin skull is most likely a Denisovan. It’s missing the jaw, but otherwise incredibly complete. Sooner or later its ancient DNA will be tested and give us a definitive answer. Pretty amazing stuff.

From the article:

“When I saw this analysis, I nearly fell off my chair,” Hublin says. They question how the skull was found to be closely related to the Xiahe jawbone, because there are no overlapping traits to compare as the skull has no jawbone.

To date, the only clearly identified Denisovan fossils are a pinkie bone, teeth, and a bit of skull bone from Denisova Cave. But the enormous, “weird” molar from the new find fits with the molars from Denisova, says Bence Viola, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Toronto who analyzed them with Hublin.

The paper authors acknowledge that the find could be a Denisovan. And Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at London’s Natural History Museum and co-author on two of the papers, says so directly: “I think it probably is a Denisovan.”

For those unaware of this also recent discovery:

Some of the earliest bands of modern humans who ventured out of Africa and into the Middle East 120,000 to 140,000 years ago might have met a strange-looking character with the look of a primitive Neanderthal, but a stone toolkit as modern as their own.

the fossils show a “weird” mix of archaic and Neanderthal-like traits, May says. For example, the robust jaw and molar were similar to Neanderthals, but the parietal skull bones were thicker, and more like those in archaic members of Homo.

(Paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) thinks the mix of archaic and Neanderthal traits may reflect regional variation, with Neanderthals living in the Middle East being different from the classic Neanderthals of Europe, or at least a hybrid mix of different groups. He adds that in his view, teeth are the most important body part for classifying a fossil, and “that tooth is like a Neanderthal tooth.”

The research articles for anyone interested:

Harbin cranium (pdf)

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