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Dragon Man in China: How discovery of this possibly new human species could explain evolution of Homo Sapiens


While Homo Sapiens, or modern humans, are the only ones in existence presently, there are many species of humans to have existed. (Image: Xijun Ni

Dragon Man in China: Remains of new species of humans discovered? If researchers from China are to be believed, an ancient skull that could belong to a whole different species of humans has been discovered. According to a report in IE, the skull, estimated to be more than 1.46 lakh years old, was discovered in the Songhua river in Harbin city of north-east China. The findings of the team have been published in ‘The Innovation’ journal, the report added. The species is being called the “Dragon Man” at the moment.

However, this is not the only research that has claimed to find an unknown ancient human species. Last week, researchers in Israel said that they had identified a new type of ancient human that had not been known before, and this species, they said, were called ‘Nesher Ramla Homo’. The report added that this species of humans was among the many species of humans that co-existed nearly 1 lakh years ago in Africa, Asia and Europe, including Home Sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.

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While Homo Sapiens are the species group that all the existing humans belong to that had evolved about 3 lakh years ago in Africa, Neanderthals are believed to be the closest relatives to humans that lived between 4 lakh to 40,000 years ago, in Europe as well as central to southwest Asia. The findings from the Israeli site, which the researchers are dating back to between 1.4 lakh and 1.2 lakh years ago, have been published in ‘Science’ journal. The team also said that the Nesher Ramla Homo had been able to master technology which had so far been linked only with Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens – they used wood as fuel, and also cooked and roasted meat. They were also capable of maintaining fires.

As per the report, these findings are of importance due to the fact that they lend backing to the premise that cultural interactions took place between lineages of different species of humans.

While Homo Sapiens, or modern humans, are the only ones in existence presently, there are many species of humans to have existed. So much so, that scientists differ on the number of human species. However, largely, at least 21 species of humans are accepted by most, the report added.

Till now, it is believed that the oldest human species to have existed was the Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which likely lived between 7 to 6 million years ago, while Orrorin tugenensis are believed to have lived between 6.2 to 5.8 million years ago. 5.8 to 5.2 million years ago, the Ardipithecus kadabba are believed to have lived, while 4.4 million years ago, Ardipithecus ramidus existed. Apart from this, Australopithecus anamensis, Australopithecus afarensis, Kenyanthropus platyops, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus aethiopicus, Australopithecus garhi, Australopithecus garhi, Paranthropus robustus, Australopithecus sediba, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis are believed to have existed in different areas between 4.2 million and 40,000 years ago. Lastly, Homo Sapiens are the species that are found across the world today.

The Dragon Man, or Homo longi, is the name given to the cranium – the part of the skull that encloses the brain – that has been discovered in China, dubbed after the Long Jiang or Dragon river in the province where Harbin city is. The report said that the skull, which was buried in sediments for thousands of years, was apparently discovered way back in 1933. The nearly complete remains of the skull have a distinctive shape, as per the UK’s Natural History Museum, which is why some researchers are batting for it to be declared a part of a new species of genus Homo. Another significant aspect of this skull is that it has a significant brain capacity, which can be compared to that of Homo Sapiens and of Neanderthals.

The discovery is key because if Dragon Man is indeed a new species of humans to be found, then it might be able to fill the gap between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens, giving a better picture of the evolution of our species. So far, there is not much consensus among the scientific community about the links between the different species of humans and the species which we can consider to be our immediate ancestors.

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