(ORDO NEWS) — An international group of scientists discovered fossilized human remains in China that are unlike the remains of any other hominid. Ancient man was not like a representative of the lines that gave rise to Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans. And this means that another branch should appear on the genealogical tree of people.
The jaw, skull and leg bones of an unknown species were found in Guangdong, East Asia, in 2019. Since then, experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have tried to match these remains with known species.
The face of this hominid is arranged in the same way as the face of modern people, who separated from the Homo erectus line 750 thousand years ago. But he does not have a chin, reminiscent of Denisovans – an extinct species of ancient people that existed 450 thousand years ago in Asia.
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences worked together with researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, the University of York in Great Britain and the National Research Center for Human Evolution in Spain.
They believe they have found an entirely new branch of ancient humans – a cross between the lineage that gave rise to modern humans and the one from which other ancient hominids, such as the Denisovans, are descended.
Historically, many Pleistocene hominid fossils found in China cannot be easily assigned to a single lineage. Such remains are often attributed to intermediate variations on the way to the appearance of modern man. For example, to the archaic form of sapiens or the advanced form of Homo erectus.
But this interpretation was not widely accepted. Although Homo erectus existed in Indonesia about 100,000 years ago, remains recently discovered in eastern China bear more resemblance to other modern hominid lineages.
Earlier studies of the genome of Neanderthal remains in Europe and Western Asia revealed evidence of a fourth line of hominids that lived in the middle and late Pleistocene. But this “disappeared” group was never fully identified in the fossil record.
Perhaps the new remains are part of this mosaic. They belonged to a person aged 12-13 years. Her face has the features of a modern human, but her limbs, cranial vault and jaw “seem to reflect more primitive features.”
The mosaic of physical features found in this ancient hominid instead confirms the coexistence of three lineages in Asia – the H. erectus lineage, the Denisovan lineage, and this other lineage that is “phylogenetically close” to us.
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