Human evolution Intelligent Design

Experts are still skeptical of claims for Dragon Man

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Put this way, it sounds like the opening of a novel:

The first paper describes the history and features of the skull, known as the Harbin cranium, which was donated to the Geoscience Museum at China’s Hebei GEO University in 2018. What happened before that is speculative, but Ni tells The Scientist that the leading story is that the cranium was first discovered in 1933 by a Chinese laborer under contract with occupying Japanese soldiers during the World War II. Japanese troops were overseeing the construction of a bridge over the Songhua River, part of a river system known as the Lóng Jiāng, or Dragon River, near Harbin City in northern China, when the worker discovered the skull. He secreted it away, hiding it in an abandoned well, where it remained for roughly 90 years. It was only shortly before his death in 2018 that he revealed the secret to his family, who recovered the fossil and offered it to the museum for study.

Almost none of this story can be independently verified, and the paucity of detail, especially where the skull was found, makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions on everything from the fossil’s age to its relationship to other specimens in China, according to Michael Petraglia, a professor of human evolution and prehistory at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Context is primary. It’s a big problem, actually, to find a fossil, any kind of fossil, without context,” he says, adding, “I do think that they’ve done the best they can given the circumstances that they have.”

Amanda Heidt, ““Dragon Man” May Replace Neanderthal as Our Closest Relative” at The Scientist (Jun 25, 2021)

Here’s a thought experiment: Suppose we never believed that there were any human “species” at all. Why would a guy with a big head matter so much?

Okay, Dragon Man: From the Smithsonian Magazine on newly unearthed Dragon Man (homo longi)

Much of the text is the usual interminable ingroup squabble among Darwinians about “human speciation” but we do learn things of interest: “The Dragon Man appears to be a 50-something male who was likely a very large and powerful individual. The authors suggest his small hunter-gatherer community settled on a forested floodplain in a Middle Pleistocene environment that could be harsh and quite cold.”

2 Replies to “Experts are still skeptical of claims for Dragon Man

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Classic case of survivor bias. He’s the only one we have, which implies that he was SPECIAL, deserving more careful burial than the rest of the tribe. Big dude was chief of an average-size tribe.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Here’s a thought experiment: Suppose we never believed that there were any human “species” at all. Why would a guy with a big head matter so much?

    I haven’t paid much attention to this.

    But why is anyone making a big deal of it? I never saw why Neanderthals and Denisovans were not just different types of humans.

    There are current humans who differ from each other substantially based on physical characteristics. So one had a much bigger head in the past.

    Aren’t big heads indicative of higher intelligence? Why did he not pass on his genes?

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