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Human family tree gets a new member: Homo luzonensis

  • 12/04/2019
  • The human family tree has got a new branch with the unearthing of an unknown human species that lived on an island in Philippines some 50,000 years ago.
  • The species, dubbed Homo luzonensis after the island of Luzon where its remains were found is not a direct ancestor of modern day humans, but rather a distant ancient relative. 
  • The researchers from France, the Philippines and Australia found the remains in the Callo Cave, where a bone dating back 67,000 years was discovered in 2007.
  • It was not initially clear which type of early human that bone came from, but more recently the researchers discovered seven teeth and five different bones at the site, dating back between 50,000 and 67,000 years.
  • Under that theory, other early humans stayed put in Africa, where they eventually died out.
  • But the theory has been challenged by discoveries in recent years of species that do not appear to be descended from Homo erectus, including Homo floresiensis, the so-called “hobbit” found in 2004 on an Indonesian island.
  • In particular, luzonensis has a foot bone that is unlike any of its known human contemporaries but closely resembles those of a human species known to have existed in Africa around two to three million years earlier.
  • Luzonensis also has curved finger and toe bones, suggesting climbing may have been an important part of its behaviour.