Daily US Times: Chinese scientists have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human, nicknamed ‘Dragon Man’.
The team has claimed it is our closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient human, such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals.
The “Dragon Man” specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.
It was found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, but only came to the attention of researchers more recently.
An analysis of the human skull has been published in the journal The Innovation.
Prof Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum, one of the UK’s leading experts in human evolution, was a member of the research team.
He said: “In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered.”
He added: “What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.”
The scientists say the discovery has the potential to rewrite the story of human evolution. Their analysis of the skull suggests that it is more closely related to Homo sapiens than it is to Neanderthals.
They have assigned the specimen to a new species: Homo longi, from the Chinese word “long”, meaning dragon.
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