An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of a new species of humans in the Philippines, which shows that the region played a key role in the evolutionary history of hominids. The new species, Homo luzonensis is named after the island of Luzon, where fossils of more than 50,000 years old were found during excavations in the cave of Callao.
Co-author and lead team member, Professor Philip Piper of the Australian National University (ANU) says the findings represent a breakthrough in our understanding of human evolution throughout Southeast Asia.
The researchers discovered the remains of at least two adults and a minor within the same archaeological sites.
"The fossil remains included bones of fingers and fingers of adults, as well as teeth, we also recovered a child's femur, there are some very interesting characteristics, for example, the teeth are very small," said Professor Piper.
"The size of the teeth in general, although not always, reflects the overall body size of a mammal, so we believe that the Homo luzonensis was probably relatively small, exactly how small we still do not know, we would need to find some skeletal elements from where we could measure body size more accurately, "said Professor Piper.
"It is quite incredible, the extremities, that is, the bones of the hands and feet are very similar to those of the australopithecines." The australopithecines walked the earth in Africa for the last time about 2 million years ago and are considered the ancestors. of the Homo group, which includes modern humans.
"So, the question is whether some of these characteristics evolved as adaptations to the life of the island, or if they are anatomical features transmitted to Homo luzonensis of their ancestors during the 2 million years prior."
While there are still many questions about the origins of Homo luzonensis and its longevity on the island of Luzon, recent excavations near the Callao cave produced evidence of a rhinoceros and sacrificed stone tools dating back to about 700,000 years ago.
"Hominid fossils were not recovered, but this provides a time frame for a hominid presence in Luzon, whether it is Homo luzonensis slaughtering and eating rhinoceros, remains to be seen," said Professor Piper.
"It makes the whole region really meaningful, the Philippines is made up of a group of large islands that have separated enough to have potentially facilitated the speciation of the archipelago, there is no reason why archaeological research in the Philippines can not discover several species of Hominin, it's probably only a matter of time. "
Homo luzonensis shares some unique skeletal characteristics with the famous Homo floresiensis or "the hobbit", discovered on the island of Flores, southeast of the Philippine archipelago.
In addition, stone tools dating from about 200,000 years ago were found on the island of Sulawesi, which means that ancient hominids potentially inhabited many of the great islands of Southeast Asia.
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