New human species found in China could be our “closest evolutionary relative” - BBC News

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BBC News 25 June, 2021 - 06:59pm 52 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

Scientists Discover ‘Dragon Man’ Skull in China That Could Be Link to Early Humans

Complex 25 June, 2021 - 03:25pm

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The well-preserved skullcap, found by a team of researchers in the Chinese city of Harbin, is between 138,000 and 309,000 years old, according to findings published Friday as three separate papers in the journal The Innovation. Nicknamed “Dragon Man”, the specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago. 

The researchers say the discovery has the potential to rewrite the story of human evolution. Their analysis suggests that it is more closely related to Homo sapiens than it is to Neanderthals.

“It is widely believed that the Neanderthal belongs to an extinct lineage that is the closest relative of our own species,” Xijun Ni, a professor of primatology and paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University, and author of two of the papers, told the Associated Press.

“However, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified that includes Homo longi is the actual sister group of Homo sapiens,” Ni added.

The findings were announced hours after scientists said they had discovered a new kind of early human after studying pieces of fossilized bone dug up at a site used by a cement plant in central Israel.

Scientists say newly discovered ‘Dragon Man’ species is likely our closest ancestor

New York Post 25 June, 2021 - 01:11pm

By Yaron Steinbuch

June 25, 2021 | 2:11pm | Updated June 25, 2021 | 2:18pm

Meet “Dragon Man,” a member of a newly discovered species of human who could be our closest ancestor.

Scientists announced Friday that a mammoth fossilized skull — discovered at the bottom of a well in northeastern China in 2018 — could be more closely related to modern humans than Neanderthals, Agence France-Presse reported.

The so-called Harbin skull was reportedly first discovered in the 1930s in the Chinese city of the same name in Heilongjiang province — but was then hidden for about 85 years to protect it from the Japanese army.

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

On Friday, scientists made the thrilling announcement in a new study that the well-preserved cranium belonged to a previously unknown species of ancient human who lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.

“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,” co-author Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London told AFP.

“If these are regarded as distinct species, then this is our sister (most closely related) species,” Stringer added.

The scientists named the new hominin Homo longi, which is derived from Heilongjiang, or Black Dragon River, the province where the skull was found — and also dubbed the ancient forebear “Dragon Man.”

His skull dates back at least 146,000 years, placing it in the Middle Pleistocene, though it could be as old as 309,000 years, according to geochemical analysis, according to CNN and AFP.

The findings were published in the journal The Innovation.

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

The researchers first studied the external morphology of the skull using over 600 traits, and then ran millions of simulations using a computer model that examined the connection to other fossils.

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

Scientists believe 'Dragon Man' may be new species of ancient human

9News.com KUSA 25 June, 2021 - 12:01pm

WASHINGTON — Multiple studies published in the scientific journal The Innovation Friday propose that a humanoid skull reportedly discovered in Northeast China in the 1930s represents a new species of the genus Homo, therefore an ancestor to modern humans. 

According to the scientists, the Harbin cranium was discovered near the city of the same name in 1933, when a man working for the Japanese occupiers of the region was working on building a bridge. Rather than report the skull to his boss, the man decided instead to bury it in a well. Before that man died in 2018, his family learned of the secret, dug up the skull and donated it to the Geoscience Museum of Hebei GEO University. It was nicknamed the "Dragon Man" after the region of China where it was discovered. 

Because of its decades preserved underground, the authors of the study note that the Dragon Man skull is in pretty good shape. They've dated it to be at least 146,000 years old. The study asserts that certain traits of the skull, like its huge size and unique head shape, differentiate it from both later ancient human species like H. sapiens and older species like H. rhodesiensis. The study's authors are opting to call this potential new branch of the human family tree Homo longi. 

In their conclusions, the researchers placed the "Dragon Man" skull as most closely resembling the Dali skull, another hominid skull found in China in 1978, and say that on the many-branched family tree of ancient humans, H. longi would be on "the sister group to H. sapiens." 

That placement is the main debate going forward for H. longi: where exactly should it be placed? And what does it mean for how we understand the history of human's ancient relatives?

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