In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

New species of ancient human unearthed

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Science  12 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6436, pp. 108
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6436.108

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Summary

A strange new species may have joined the human family. Fossils found in a cave on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, include tiny molars suggesting their owners were small; curved finger and toe bones hint they climbed trees. Homo luzonensis, as the species has been christened, lived some 50,000 to 80,000 years ago, when the world hosted multiple archaic humans, including Neanderthals and Denisovans, and when H. sapiens may have been making its first forays into Southeast Asia. The discovery echoes that of another unusual ancient hominin discovered in the region—the diminutive H. floresiensis, or "hobbit," found on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Paleoanthropologists suspect the islands of Southeast Asia may have been a cradle of diversity for ancient humans, and that H. luzonensis, like H. floresiensis, may have evolved a small body size in isolation on an island.