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SciTechDaily 27 June, 2021 - 05:44am 38 views

What is a dragon man?

Researchers said Homo longi or "Dragon Man" could replace Neanderthals as our own species' closest relative. ... The discovery of the new species is connected to a skull known as the Harbin cranium, a fossil thought to have been discovered decades ago but only recently studied. NBC NewsDiscovery of 'Dragon Man' skull in China prompts rethink of human evolution

A large skull discovered in China may be from an extremely close kin of modern humans, researchers have revealed. 

The previously unknown species of extinct ancient human, dubbed Homo longi or “Dragon Man,” could replace Neanderthals as the closet relative to modern Homo sapiens, according to the scientists, who published their findings Friday in the journal The Innovation.

The nearly perfectly preserved skull, known as the Harbin cranium, is more than 146,000 years old

Researchers believe the skull was discovered in 1933 when a bridge was built over the Songhua River in China’s Heilongjiang province, but was only recently studied. It had been wrapped up by a farmer working on the bridge and hidden down an abandoned well. He finally told his grandchildren of its existence on his deathbed in 2018 and they turned it over to a university,

Some Dragon Man’s features notably resemble those of modern man, pointed out one of the authors of the studies on the fossil, Chris Stringer, who is a researcher at London’s Natural History Museum

“It has flat and low cheekbones ... and the face looks reduced and tucked under the brain case,” he said in a statement.

The skull — about 9 inches long and more than 6 inches wide — is also large enough to hold a brain similar in size to that of modern humans. Researchers believe it belonged to a male about 50 years old.

“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” Stringer told BBC News. 

“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct,” Stringer added.

Other scientists aren’t yet certain what position Dragon Man holds on the human family tree — or if he even represents a separate species.

But research lead author Xijun Ni, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University in Shijiazhuang, is convinced: “We found our long-lost sister lineage.” 

It’s “widely believed that the Neanderthal belongs to an extinct lineage that is the closest relative of our own species. However, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified, that includes Homo longi, is the actual sister group of Homo sapiens,” he explained.

Chinese researchers unveil ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human

Scientists believe that Dragon Man was powerfully built. But little is known about how he lived, because his skull was removed from the site where it was found. So scientists are unable to search for tools and food linked to Dragon Man that would begin to tell the tale of his life.

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China's 'Dragon Man' may be an undiscovered ancient relative of humans

The Jerusalem Post 27 June, 2021 - 01:03pm

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Explained: Where does 'Dragon Man' fit in human evolution

Hindustan Times 27 June, 2021 - 01:03pm

The scientists have hailed the discovery of a new type of early humans, nicknamed the "dragon man". The researchers say that this lineage is the closest to modern humans and could replace the Neandarthals. Experts like Prof Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum said it is one of the most important yet discovered.

The skull was unearthed in China in 2018 and dates back to 1,40,000 years. It was discovered in the Harbin region of China in 1930s but came to the attention of the scientists recently.

The findings have been published in the journal 'The Innovation'.

The scientists have also discovered bones belonging to early humans in Israel. The fossils were found during excavations in the quarry of a cement plant near the central city of Ramla. The scientists have named the new species "Nesher Ramla Homo type".

The experts say these discoveries are important and can shed new light on human evolution.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the United States has given a list of 21 known species of humans. The museum says that the names are accepted by most scientists.

The oldest among these species is Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which according to the museum, existed about 7-6 million years ago somewhere around present day Chad in Africa. They walked upright, had small canine teeth and a spinal cord opening underneath the skull - some of the key characteristics listed on its website.

The others in the list are orrorin tugenensis, ardipithecus kadabba, ardipithecus ramidus, australopithecus anamensis and homo sapiens etc.

Researchers have found evidence that several human species coexisted across Eurasia and Africa more than 100,000 years ago. These included Neanderthals and Denisovans, a recently discovered sister species to Neanderthals. "Dragon man" might now be added to that list.

The perfectly preserved skull found in China belonged to a large-brained male in his 50s with deep set eyes and thick brow ridges, said the scientists. Though his face was wide, it had flat, low cheekbones that made him resemble modern people more closely than other extinct members of the human family tree, they added.

The researchers in the UK have said that due to these distinct features, the skull found in China should be declared part of a new species under the genus Homo.

Ji Qiang, a professor at Hebei GEO University, told reporters that the "Dragon Man" probably lived in a forested floodplain environment as part of a small community.

He also said that the community was well adapted for harsh environments and would have been able to disperse throughout Asia.

This new discovery is considered significant because it can provide critical evidence for studying the diversification of the Homo genus and the origin of Homo sapiens, according to The Innovation journal where the study has been published.

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'Dragon Man': 1,40,000-year-old skull discovered in China represents new species, say scientists

Times Now 27 June, 2021 - 01:03pm

A group of researchers in China has discovered an ancient skull that is believed to have belongd to a completely new species of human.

The specimen, which was actually found at Harbin in 1933, is nicknamed 'Dragon Man' and it came to the attention of scientists only recently. It was reportedly kept hidden in a well for 85 years to protect it from the Japanese Army.

In 2018. It was dug up and handed to Ji Qiang,  a professor at Hebei GEO University.

According to reports, the skull is more than 1,40,000 years old but was still perfectly preserved in northeastern China.

Now, analysis of the skull has revealed that it represented a new species of ancient people that are more closely related to humans than the Neanderthals.

The researchers believe the finding could fundamentally change our thinking and understanding of human evolution.

The specimen belonged to a large-brained male in his 50s with deep-set eyes and thick brow ridges, the study has said.

It also adds the male had a wide face with low and flat cheekbones that made him resemble modern people more closely than other extinct members of the human family tree, reported AFP.

The study has now been published in the journal The Innovation.

Co-author Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum told AFP: "On our analyses, the Harbin group is more closely linked to H. sapiens than the Neanderthals are -- that is, Harbin shared a more recent common ancestor with us than the Neanderthals did.”

He added that the 'Dragon Man' would be the 'sister species' to humans and closer ancestor of the modern man than the Neanderthals.

Professor Ji Qiang said the specimen represents a 'mosaic combination of primitive and derived characters setting itself apart from all the other previously named Homo species'.

In 2019, scientists found a broken skull in a Greek cave and claimed that it is the oldest modern human fossil ever found outside Africa. The skull was found in the Apidima cave on the Mani peninsula of the southern Peloponnese.

The partial skull was dated to be at least 2,10,000 years old.

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Discovery of ‘Dragon Man’ skull in China could add new species to human family tree

ThePrint 27 June, 2021 - 01:03pm

A near-perfectly preserved ancient human fossil sitting in a museum in China since the 1930s has been identified as a new human species named Homo longi or “Dragon Man”.

This species may be more closely related to humans than the Neanderthals.

Scientists say Homo longi lineage may be our closest relatives and could reshape our understanding of human evolution.

The fossil is one of the most complete human cranial fossils in the world. It preserved many details that are critical for understanding the evolution of humans and the origin of our species — Homo sapiens.

The massive skull could hold a brain comparable in size to modern humans but had larger, almost square eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth, and oversized teeth.

While it shows typical ancient human features, the skull is different from all the other previously-named Homo species.

Scientists believe the cranium came from a male individual, approximately 50 years old, living in a forested, floodplain environment as part of a small community.

Given that the individual was likely very large in size as well as the location where the skull was found, researchers suggest Homo longi may have been adapted for harsh environments, allowing them to disperse throughout Asia. Read more here

Scientists have found evidence that there are more lakes containing water under the surface of Mars than previously thought, although many of them are in areas too cold for water to remain liquid.

In 2018, scientists working with data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter discovered that signals from a radar instrument reflected off the red planet’s south pole — revealing a liquid subsurface lake. Several more such reflections have been announced since then.

In a new study, scientists from NASA describe finding dozens of similar radar reflections around the south pole after analysing a broader set of Mars Express data.

While there is still some uncertainty regarding whether or not the signals are evidence of liquid water on the Red Planet, they appear to be much more widespread than earlier thought. The research offers scientists a detailed map of the region that contains clues to the climate history of Mars, including the role of water in its various forms. Read more here

Scientists have developed an innovative way to use NASA satellite data to track the movement of tiny pieces of plastic in the ocean.

Microplastics form when plastic trash in the ocean breaks down. The small flecks of plastic are harmful to marine organisms and ecosystems. They can be carried hundreds or thousands of miles away from the source by ocean currents, making it difficult to track and remove them.

Currently, the main source of information about the location of microplastics comes from fisher boat trawlers that use nets to catch plankton and, unintentionally, microplastics.

The new technique relies on data from NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) — eight small satellites that measure wind speeds above Earth’s oceans and provides information about the strength of hurricanes.

The team looked for places where the ocean was smoother than expected given the wind speed, which they thought could indicate the presence of microplastics. Then they compared those areas to observations and predictions of where microplastics gather in the ocean. The study found that microplastics are more likely to be present in smoother waters, demonstrating that satellite data can be used as a tool to track ocean microplastic from space. Read more about it here

A mystery disease is killing birds across the US, with many victims suffering from crusty eyes, swollen faces and the inability to fly.

Scientists are yet to find the cause of this illness. Reports of dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs first emerged in May this year.

According to the US Geological Survey, no definitive cause of death has been identified.

Some states have created an online system for public to report encounters with sick and dead birds. The species affected so far have included blue jays, common grackles and European starlings, but other species may also be affected.

More than 20 samples have been sent for testing.

According to the US Geological Survey, birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. They have recommended that people stop feeding birds until there is more clarity on the cause of deaths, clean feeders and baths with a bleach solution, and avoid handling birds.

While it’s not known if the mortality is linked to bird baths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in April about a salmonella outbreak linked to wild songbirds across several states. The outbreak killed eight people. More about it here

The ground temperature in at least one location in Siberia crossed 48 degree Celsius on the year’s longest day, according to data recorded by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites.

The 48 degree Celsius temperature was measured on the ground in Eastern Siberia. These temperatures are land surface temperatures, not air temperatures. The air temperature was 30 degree Celsius. However, that’s still unusually hot for the Arctic Circle — which could speed up the region’s melting permafrost.

The permafrost prevents ancient caches of greenhouse gases from reentering Earth’s atmosphere and heating it further. Read more about it here

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

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