Jonathan Amos, “Human fossils hint at new species,” March 14, 2012
The bones, which represent at least five individuals, have been dated to between 11,500 and 14,500 years ago.
They are cautious about classification because
“One of the reasons for that is that in the science of human evolution or palaeoanthropology, we presently don’t have a generally agreed, biological definition for our own species (Homo sapiens), believe it or not. And so this is a highly contentious area,” he told BBC News.
Oh, we definitely believe it. So does Svante Paabo.
“‘Red Deer Cave people’ may be new species of human”
Named the Red Deer Cave people, after their apparent penchant for home-cooked venison, they are the most recent human remains found anywhere in the world that do not closely resemble modern humans.
The individuals differ from modern humans in their jutting jaws, large molar teeth, prominent brows, thick skulls, flat faces and broad noses. Their brains were of average size by ice age standards.
The research team lead thinks they could represent a “new evolutionary line,” but it isn’t clear what that means at this point, now that Neanderthals and Denisovans seem to have interbred with current humans. A new pickup line? A separate dating agency?
From PLOS One:
“Human Remains from the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition of Southwest China Suggest a Complex Evolutionary History for East Asians”
Our analysis suggests two plausible explanations for the morphology sampled at Longlin Cave and Maludong. First, it may represent a late-surviving archaic population, perhaps paralleling the situation seen in North Africa as indicated by remains from Dar-es-Soltane and Temara, and maybe also in southern China at Zhirendong. Alternatively, East Asia may have been colonised during multiple waves during the Pleistocene, with the Longlin-Maludong morphology possibly reflecting deep population substructure in Africa prior to modern humans dispersing into Eurasia.
Now that all the old human species have been found to be pretty much the same, this probably just had to be the new old man.
See also: Paleontologist asks, what does it mean for modern humans to be lone survivors if ancient populations mixed?
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