Fossils of extinct human species found

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Scientists have discovered a long-lost cousin of modern humans by analyzing fossil teeth and bones found in the Philippines. The assemblage of fossil bones and teeth were found in Callao Cave in Northern Luzon.

Bones recovered from Callao Cave belonging to a new specie scientists called Homo luzonensis are presented to reporters in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

They included our own species, H sapiens, and Neanderthals, both living in Europe and western Asia, the Denisovans in Siberia, and the diminutive H floresiensis -nicknamed "hobbits" - from Indonesia.

From these, they can determine that Homo luzonensis would have been pretty similar to us, but also sharing some characteristics with other upright walking apes called australopithecines who were in Africa several million years ago.

The already entangled branches of human evolution have a new development.

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The scientists are still trying to deduce how the now extinct species arrived on the island of Luzon, but it could mean they had the capacity to build a raft to sail there.

Toe bone - the proximal phalanx - from Homo luzonensis, a specimen of early human recently found in a Philippines cave.

"Our picture of hominin evolution in Asia. just got even messier, more complicated and a whole lot more interesting". They have been dated to between 67,000 years and 50,000 years ago.

"We now know that it was a much more complex evolutionary history, with several distinct species contemporaneous with Homo sapiens, interbreeding events, extinctions", said Florent Détroit, the study's main author and an anthropologist with the Natural History Museum in Paris.

But some human relative was on Luzon more than 700,000 years ago, as indicated by the presence of stone tools and a butchered rhino dating to that time, he said.

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The discovery of a new human relative on Luzon might be "smoke from a much, much bigger fire", he said. It might have been the newfound species or an ancestor of it, he said in an email.

The discovery of Homo luzonensis "provides yet more evidence that hints that H. erectus might not have been the only globe-trotting early hominin", wrote Tocheri. The remains included teeth, bones from hands and feet, and something that seems to be a leg bone. The most obvious candidate is Homo erectus, fossils of which were discovered in the 1890s on the Indonesian island of Java. And maybe another as-yet unknown creature (other than H. erectus) slipped out of Africa to later give rise to the newly discovered species.

The causes of the species' demise are another open question, said the head of human origins research at London's Natural History Museum, Chris Stringer, adding that the growth of other human species in the area could have played a role.

More such discoveries will probably emerge with further work in the region, which is under-studied, he said in an email.

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