Massive "Dragon Man" skull found in China might be a new human evolutionary branch


CBS News 29 June, 2021 - 06:37am 40 views

What is the Dragon Man discovery?

A new species of ancient human dubbed Homo longi, or "Dragon Man," could potentially change the way we understand human evolution, scientists said Friday. ... "However, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified that includes Homo longi is the actual sister group of Homo sapiens." NBC NewsDiscovery of 'Dragon Man' skull in China prompts rethink of human evolution

It belonged to a large-brained male in his 50s with deep-set eyes and thick brow ridges. 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.

The research team has linked the specimen to other Chinese fossil findings and is calling the species Homo longi or “Dragon Man,” a reference to the region where it was discovered.

The Harbin cranium was first found in 1933 in the city of the same name but was reportedly hidden in a well for 85 years to protect it from the Japanese army.

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

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

This, he said, would make Dragon Man our “sister species” and a closer ancestor of modern man than the Neanderthals.

The findings were published in three papers in the journal The Innovation. The skull dates back at least 146,000 years, placing it in the Middle Pleistocene.

“While it shows typical archaic human features, the Harbin cranium presents a mosaic combination of primitive and derived characters setting itself apart from all the other previously named Homo species,” said Ji, who led the research.

The name is derived from Long Jiang, which literally means “Dragon River.”

Dragon Man probably lived in a forested floodplain environment as part of a small community.

“This population would have been hunter-gatherers, living off the land,” said Stringer. “From the winter temperatures in Harbin today, it looks like they were coping with even harsher cold than the Neanderthals.”

Given the location where the skull was found as well as the large-sized man it implies, the team believe Homo longi may have been well adapted for harsh environments and would have been able to disperse throughout Asia.

Researchers first studied the cranium, identifying more than 600 traits they fed into a computer model that ran millions of simulations to determine the evolutionary history and relationships between different species.

“These suggest that Harbin and some other fossils from China form a third lineage of later humans alongside the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens,” explained Stringer.

The other findings include a fossilised skull from the Chinese province of Dali that is thought to be 200,000 years old and was found in 1978, and a jaw found in Tibet dating back 160,000 years ago.

Stringer explained that his Chinese colleagues had decided upon the name Homo longi, which he called a “great name,” but said he would have been equally happy to refer to the species as Homo Daliensis, which was previously used for the Dali cranium.

More than 100,000 years ago, several human species coexisted across Eurasia and Africa, including our own, Neanderthals and Denisovans, a recently discovered sister species to Neanderthals. “Dragon man” might now be added to that list.

An alternative explanation is that Homo longi and Denisovans are in fact one and the same. Fossils so far attributed to Denisovans include teeth and bones but not a full skull, so scientists are unsure what they looked like.

But Neanderthals and Denisovans were genetically closer to each other than to Sapiens, while the new study suggests Homo longi were more anatomically similar to us than Neanderthals.

The lingering uncertainty may therefore require future genetic sequencing to help clear up.

Israeli scientists say the remains could not be matched to any known species from the Homo genus.

Scientists sequenced DNA from the teeth of mammoths discovered in Siberia in the 1970s.

Archaeologists dig up the remains of about 60 of the most famous mammals of the Ice Age outside Mexico’s capital.

Read full article at CBS News

Scientists found fossils from a new species of human that’s 130,000 years old

BGR 26 June, 2021 - 07:34pm

The researchers gave it a new name since we’re looking at a different species of human that has never been seen before. They’re calling it Nesher Ramla Homo, after a location southeast of Tel Aviv where it was discovered. This human had particular characteristics unseen in other skeletal findings from the same period. The researchers found that Nesher Ramla Homo had a flat skull, very large teeth, and a jaw bone with no chin. The species may have lived alongside Homo sapiens for more than 100,000 years, and they’re believed to be the precursor to the Neanderthal, the skull of which is seen above. The discovery might upend everything we knew about human evolution on Earth.

“The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance,” Tel Aviv University’s Israel Hershkovitz said in a statement. “It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world.”

The Nesher Ramla might have had unusual skull anatomy, but the study says they resembled pre-Neanderthal groups in Europe.

“This is what makes us suggest that this Nesher Ramla group is actually a large group that started very early in time and are the source of the European Neanderthal,” Tel Aviv University physical anthropologist Hila May said in a statement. She added that science has never been able to explain how Homo sapien genes were present in the earlier Neanderthal population in Europe. The Nesher Ramla may be the missing link, as the species may have interbred with Homo sapiens.

The 3D shape analysis of the Nesher Ramla bones ruled out relation to any known group, but the researchers did match a small number of human fossils in Israel that scientists had never explained. Scientists speculate that Israel’s geographical location would have allowed different human populations to meet and mix while they were spreading throughout the world.

The Nesher Ramla Homo bones were found some 25 feet deep, next to stone stools, horse bones, and deer bones.

Other experts not involved in the study told NBC News that the Nesher Ramla fossils look like an intermediate variety of human that might have preceded the Neanderthals in the area.

The following video from the Tel Aviv University shows images and 3D renders of the Nesher Ramla Homo. It also explains the technology used to demonstrate that the bones belonged to a new humanoid species.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

'Dragon Man' Fossil Shows Close Link to Modern Humans

Courthouse News Service 26 June, 2021 - 07:34pm

Probably the best news site in the world

(CN) — Researchers believe they have discovered a new human species that could reshape the way scientists understand the history of human evolution.

According to a trio of new research papers, a skull fossil known as the Harbin cranium belongs to a new species of humans named Homo longi, also referred to as “Dragon Man,” named for the Dragon River area of China where it was found.

These findings were published Friday in the journal The Innovation, and detail how this ancient skull sheds enormous light on the evolutionary path of humans.

“The Harbin fossil is one of the most complete human cranial fossils in the world,” said Qiang Ji, a professor of paleontology of Hebei GEO University who authored one of the papers. “This fossil preserved many morphological details that are critical for understanding the evolution of the Homo genus and the origin of Homo sapiens.”

Ji’s paper was published alongside two others, one authored by Xijun Ni, a professor of primatology and paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University, and the other by Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist for the Natural History Museum of London.

Together, the findings suggest the fossil was found in the 1930s in Harbin City, located in the Heilongjiang province of China. The fossil is very large and could hold a brain the size of a modern human.

However, the skull differs from that of a modern human head in other ways. Namely, the Harbin fossil has larger, almost square socketed eyes, and a wide mouth containing large teeth.

“While it shows typical archaic human features, the Harbin cranium presents a mosaic combination of primitive and derived characters setting itself apart from all the other previously-named Homo species,” Ji said.

The researchers used a series of geochemical analyses to place an age on the fossil, which they believe is at least 146,000 years old. Using its age and features, the researchers believe that Homo longi would be a closer relative to Homo sapiens than the Neanderthals.

“It is 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 H. sapiens,” says Ni.

If accurate, this addition to the human lineage would reshape how scientists view our ancestor species. This jumbling of the human lineage suggests that the common ancestry modern humans share with Neanderthals would have existed even further back in time.

“The divergence time between H. sapiens and the Neanderthals may be even deeper in evolutionary history than generally believed, over one million years,” said Ni. “If true, we likely diverged from Neanderthals roughly 400,000 years earlier than scientists had thought.”

Besides placing Homo longi in an evolutionary timeline, the researchers were able to glean information from the fossil and provide details about what they think this human ancestor may have been like.

The findings suggest that Homo longi was a strong and robust human, with the Harbin fossil being from an adult male roughly 50 years old. The research also suggests that the fossil came from someone who would have lived in a forested, floodplain area, most likely as part of a small community.

The researchers also believe that Homo longi would have probably hunted mammals and birds and gathered fruits and vegetables much in the same manner as Homo sapiens.

Also, given the new timeline, this newly discovered ancestor may have interacted with Homo sapiens and could have been instrumental in shaping the history of modern humans.

This is because researchers have seen multiple human lineages of different Homo species co-existing in Asia, Africa and Europe all at the same time, which would have allowed for potential interactions between the different lineages.

“Altogether, the Harbin cranium provides more evidence for us to understand Homo diversity and evolutionary relationships among these diverse Homo species and populations,” Ni said. “We found our long-lost sister lineage.”

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Researchers unveil ancient skull nicknamed as `Dragon Man`

WION 26 June, 2021 - 07:34pm

The find brings the total number of skulls featured in the late 15th-century structure, known as Huey Tzompantli, to more than 600. Photograph:( Reuters )

The species is nicknamed 'Dragon Man' and it represents a human group that lived in East Asia around 146,000 years ago. Found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, the species only gained the attention of scientists recently.

In a recent development, Chinese researchers have unveiled an 'ancient skull' that could belong to a completely new species of human. The team claims that it is their 'closest evolutionary relative' among known species of ancient humans, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

Prof Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum, who is one of the UK's leading experts in human evolution, and also a member of the research team was quoted by BBC saying that, "In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered". He added, "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".

As per the researchers, the recent discovery can rewrite the story of human evolution. Also, this analysis suggests that it is more closely related to Homo sapiens as compared to Neanderthals.

The skull of the species is huge compared with the average skulls belonging to other human species and its brain was comparable in size to those from our species. Also, the species had large, almost square eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth, and oversized teeth. 

Xijun Ni, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University in Shijiazhuang was quoted by BBC saying that "We found our long-lost sister lineage". He further added, "I said 'oh my gosh!' I could not believe that it was so well preserved, you can see all the details. It is a really amazing find!". 

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