Mysterious fossils that they could be an unknown type of human have been discovered in caves in China. The bones possess an unusual combination of past and modern human characteristics, the scientists revealed.
Surprisingly, the fossils are between 11,500 and 14,500 years old, which means that they would have shared the landscape with early modern humans, when the first farmers appeared in the region.
- Skull found in China that would belong to a new human species
“These new fossils could be of a previously unknown species, which survived until the end of the Ice Age about 11,000 years ago.”Said the researcher Darren curnoe, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Alternatively, it could represent some of the early modern humans, unknown until now, who arrived from Africa, being part of a population that could not contribute genetically with the current people”.
The skeletons of the new humans.
At least three fossil specimens were discovered in 1989 by miners mining the limestone quarries at Maludong, or "Reed Deer Cave," near the city of Mengzi, in southwest China. However, they were not able to study them until 2008.
Scientists call these people "Reed Deer Cave People”, Or“ The people of the cave of the Red Deer ”, precisely because the extinct red deer inhabited this region before its disappearance.
“These people clearly had a taste for venison, and there is evidence that they prepared them in the cave itself.Curnoe said. Dating by Carbon-14, a technique used to calculate the radioactive decay of carbon in charcoal samples found in fossils, helped establish its age. But the charcoal not only helped date them, it also showed that they knew how to use fire. The stone artifacts found on the site, meanwhile, let us see that they were tool makers.
A chinese geologist found a partial skeleton very similar to those found at Maludong, in a nearby Longlin cave in southwestern China in 1979, but the remains remained locked in the basement of an archaeological research institute until 2009, when the international team of scientists found more similar fossils.
¿Why it could be a new species of humans?
The stone age fossils found present unusual modern and archaic human anatomical features, as well as others never seen before. This makes them difficult to classify, either as a new species or as a rare type of modern humans.
These people, from what the remains reveal, had long, wide, and tall frontal lobes like modern humans, but prominent brow ridges, thick skull bones, and a broad nose and protruding jaw that do not have a chin similar to the human, along with the large molars, are clear characteristics of human ancestors, hundreds of thousands of years ago.
“Simply put, they are anatomically unique among all members of the tree of human evolution.Curnoe said.
The population of Red Deer Cave.
This population lived in China at the end of the Ice Age. "They survived one of the most conflictive periods climatologically speaking, the last Ice Age, which ended about 20,000 years ago.Curnoe said.
“The period of around 15,000 to 11,000 years ago in China is known as the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, at which time a sudden change in climate and the disappearance of megafauna were observed, including the giant deer that gives its name to the cave where human fossils were found”.
“However, it also showed a great change in the behavior of modern humans in southern China, who began to make pottery to store food and collect "wild" rice, marking the first step towards full-blown agriculture.Curnoe said.
“The people of Reed Deer Cave were sharing the landscape with early pre-agricultural communities, but we have no idea how they may have interacted or if they competed for resources.”, He sentenced.
You can see more photographs of the new human species on Live Science.
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