A completely new species of ancient human known as Homo longi, or Dragon Man, is changing the way we think about human evolution.
Researchers recently made a revelation in their three separate papers such as the journal, The Innovation, and they proved that Homo longi can replace the Neanderthals as the closest relative Homo sapiens, human beings. The discovery of the new species is linked to the skull also known as Harbin cranium. It is a fossil that has been discovered years back but has been recently being studied in greater detail.
Same But Different Species
It was believed that Neanderthal was part of the extinct lineage that has a close association with Homo Sapiens.
A professor of primatology and Paleoanthropology, Xijun Ni, who works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University, asserted that the discovery suggests that the Homo Longi is the sister group of Homo sapiens. Even the Harbin Cranium has features resembling Homo Sapiens. The face has flat and low cheekbones with a shallow canine fossa and is tucked under the braincase.
The Meaning of the Dragon Man
The name “Dragon Man” has been derived from the name, Long Jiang, and was usually used in the Heilongjiang province and the literal meaning of the same is Dragon River. as per the study by an international team and conducted by Qiang Ji, Hebei Geo University in China.
All About a Huge Skull
The huge skill discovered is 9 inches long and six inches wide skull can hold a brain that is as close to the size of the human brain as possible, almost 3 pounds in brain volume. Researchers think it belongs to a male whose aged around 50 years of age.
The cranium was discovered around 1933 by some Chinese laborers when a bridge was built over the Songhua River in Harbin City, in China’s Heilongjiang province. However, nobody got the actual information about the exact site was lost because it was difficult to unravel the confusing history. This was during the period of Japanese occupation.
The discoverer of the skull, to prevent it from getting in the hands of the Japanese, hid it in an abandoned well. However, it again resurfaced in 2018, when the man who hid it, told his grandson about it before passing away.
A Sister Lineage to Homo Sapiens
Researchers described the old archaic human cranium was recovered from northeastern China and describes the sister lineage for Homo sapiens.
Although most of the research has described the team as a new species, in a different interview. Researchers also believed that the skull bore a resemblance to another fossil belonging to Homo daliensis, also regarded as an ancient human. The morphology of the fossil says a lot about the later human evolution.
The scientists went on to discover it accidentally after going through the various pieces of fossilized bone, that they dig up at a site.
The Way it Was Discovered
To get a better inkling of the history of the Dragon Man, the scientists entered the measurements from the fossil and as many as 95 other skulls into software that was made into a family tree of sorts.
This revealed that this skull and some more others from China actually had made a branch closer to modern humans than the Neanderthals.
The Opinion of Researchers From Different Parts of the World
However, most other researchers around the world do not feel the same. Professor John Hawks, who is a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is of the opinion that the idea coming from a new breed of humans was not quite accurate as the skulls can look similar even when it is compared to the distant relatives of individuals.
Professor Hawks went onto say that the description is not quite accurate, it is not right to name any new species among these large-brained humans that can all interbreed from each other. What we mean is that although there has been a difference in looks, it does not mean much to these ancient people when it is compared to breeding.
Well, we are sure there is much more to know about this interesting piece of the puzzle and with time we will come to know more about its intriguing backstory. Watch this space for more.