A near-flawlessly preserved historic human fossil recognised as the Harbin cranium sits in the Geoscience Museum in Hebei GEO University. The most significant of regarded Homo skulls, scientists now say this cranium represents a freshly uncovered human species named Homo longi or “Dragon Person.” Their results, appearing in three papers publishing June 25 in the journal The Innovation, propose that the Homo longi lineage may be our closest relations — and has the prospective to reshape our comprehension of human evolution.
“The Harbin fossil is one particular of the most comprehensive human cranial fossils in the globe,” suggests author Qiang Ji, a professor of paleontology of Hebei GEO University. “This fossil preserved lots of morphological information that are crucial for understanding the evolution of the Homo genus and the origin of Homo sapiens.”
The cranium was reportedly discovered in the 1930s in Harbin City of the Heilongjiang province of China. The substantial cranium could keep a brain similar in size to modern-day humans’ but experienced bigger, almost sq. eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a large mouth, and outsized teeth. “Whilst it demonstrates usual archaic human options, the Harbin cranium offers a mosaic mix of primitive and derived characters location alone aside from all the other previously-named Homo species,” states Ji, top to its new species designation of Homo longi.
Researchers believe the cranium arrived from a male individual, approximately 50 several years aged, residing in a forested, floodplain atmosphere as section of a little community. “Like Homo sapiens, they hunted mammals and birds, and collected fruits and veggies, and possibly even caught fish,” remarks writer Xijun Ni, a professor of primatology and paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO College. Given that the Harbin specific was possible pretty large in size as nicely as the area where by the cranium was identified, scientists advise H. longi may possibly have been adapted for harsh environments, letting them to disperse throughout Asia.
Employing a series of geochemical analyses, Ji, Ni, and their workforce dated the Harbin fossil to at the very least 146,000 several years, positioning it in the Center Pleistocene, a dynamic period of human species migration. They hypothesize that H. longi and H. sapiens could have encountered every single other through this era.
“We see numerous evolutionary lineages of Homo species and populations co-current in Asia, Africa, and Europe during that time. So, if Homo sapiens certainly got to East Asia that early, they could have a possibility to interact with H. longi, and because we don’t know when the Harbin group disappeared, there could have been afterwards encounters as nicely,” says author Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Mother nature Historical past Museum in London.
Wanting farther back in time, the scientists also find that Homo longi is one of our closest hominin relations, even additional carefully related to us than Neanderthals. “It is widely thought that the Neanderthal belongs to an extinct lineage that is the closest relative of our have species. On the other hand, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified that involves Homo longi is the true sister group of H. sapiens,” claims Ni.
Their reconstruction of the human tree of existence also implies that the popular ancestor we share with Neanderthals existed even further more back in time. “The divergence time involving H. sapiens and the Neanderthals may possibly be even deeper in evolutionary historical past than frequently thought, about a person million several years,” states Ni. If true, we probable diverged from Neanderthals about 400,000 decades earlier than researchers experienced thought.
The researchers say that conclusions gathered from the Harbin cranium have the possible to rewrite key aspects of human evolution. Their investigation into the existence historical past of Homo longi counsel they had been strong, strong people whose prospective interactions with Homo sapiens could have formed our heritage in transform. “Entirely, the Harbin cranium delivers more proof for us to comprehend Homo variety and evolutionary associations among these diverse Homo species and populations,” claims Ni. “We observed our extensive-lost sister lineage.”
Supplies presented by Mobile Press. Be aware: Articles may possibly be edited for style and length.