Hualongdong fossil find in China 中国 shakes up the human family tree

NEW: Watch our Video on Hualongdong fossil at YouTube.

The long-awaited analysis of the mandible, hinted at by numerous paleo-anthropologists, is finally out.  It is titled,

Morphological and morphometric analyses of a late Middle Pleistocene hominin mandible from Hualongdong, China

HualongdongThere are an impressive array of authors, including, two well known paleoanthropologists to regular readers of this site: José María Bermúdez de Castro  and  María Martinón-Torres.

Others include: Xujie Wu and Wu Liu.

From the Abstract:

Excavations in Hualongdong (HLD), East China, have yielded abundant hominin fossils dated to 300 ka. There is a nearly complete mandible that fits well with a partial cranium, and together they compose the skull labeled as HLD 6.

[The mandible is] “reminiscent of Late Pleistocene hominin and recent modern human morphology


Results indicate that the HLD 6 mandible exhibits a mosaic morphological pattern characterized by a robust corpus and relatively gracile symphysis and ramus. The moderately developed mental trigone and a clear anterior mandibular incurvation of the HLD 6 mandible are reminiscent of Late Pleistocene hominin and recent modern human morphology…

it is possible that modern human morphologies are present as early as 300 ka and earlier than the emergence of modern humans in East Asia.

Some media are suggesting it is an entirely news species of Hominin.

From CNN, August 9,

300,000-year-old skull found in China unlike any early human seen before

ChinaAn international team of researchers from China, Spain and the United Kingdom unearthed the skull — specifically the mandible, or lower jaw — in the Hualongdong region of eastern China in 2015, along with 15 other specimens, all thought to originate from the late Middle Pleistocene period.

Scientists believe the late Middle Pleistocene, which started around 300,000 years ago, was a pivotal period for the evolution of hominins — species that are regarded as human or closely related — including modern humans.

The paleoanthropologists note a mixture of anatomical features.  Continuing:

Many Pleistocene hominin fossils discovered in China have been similarly difficult to classify, and were previously perceived to be anomalies, according to the study. However, this discovery, along with other recent research, is slowly changing what people know of the evolutionary pattern in the late Middle Pleistocene.

By comparing the HLD 6 mandible to those of Pleistocene hominins and modern humans, the researchers found it has features of both.

It is similarly shaped to the mandible of Homo sapiens, our modern human species that evolved from Homo erectus. But it also shares a characteristic of a different branch that evolved from Homo erectus, the Denisovans. Like the Denisovans, HLD 6 does not appear to have a chin.

Martinón-Torres is also leader of excavation efforts in Spain at Altamira and Gran Dolina to uncover Homo antecessor fossils.  Homo antecessor also has a receding chin, but otherwise has very modern facial features.

However, Homo antecessor has never been found to the east of present day Greece.

From, August 4,

Remains found in China may belong to third human lineage

Maria Martinon TorresThe researchers note that the combination of features has never before been observed in hominids in East Asia, suggesting that traits found in modern humans began to appear as far back as 300,000 years ago.

The research team suggests that the unique features of the jawbone resemble those of both modern humans and Late Pleistocene hominids. But they also found that it did not have a chin, which suggests that it was more closely related to older species.

Note – Homo antecessor is dated to 1.2 million years ago to ~500,000 years ago.

Homo antecessor a “controversial species in the genus Homo…”


‘Distinct’ Facial Features Have Been Around For A Very Long Time

Homo antecessorA new study suggests that human facial features are found deep within our ancestry. Some say that the similarities between the facial features of modern humans and the controversial Early Pleistocene hominin species called Homo antecessorsuggests that they were the last common ancestors of both modern humans, Denisovans, and Neanderthals. Others say that’s not the right place for them on the evolutionary tree.

H. antecessor is a controversial species in the genus Homo because their remains have so far only been identified in the Gran Dolina TD6 assemblage in Atapuerca, Spain. They are believed to have lived from 1.2 million to 800,000 years ago, making them one of the earliest human-like species in Europe.

Two mandibles recovered from Gran Dolina revealed that H. antecessor shared some features with Homo erectus from China and Java… — Martinon-Torres and Bermudez de Castro

Martinon-Torres and Bermudez de Castro published their paper at, 2015,

Comparative analysis of the trigonid crests patterns in Homo antecessor molars at the enamel and dentine surfaces

The unique combination of primitive and derived features that H. antecessor shared with SH, Neanderthals and H. sapiens samples, suggests the possibility that they all may have shared a common ancestor which could have evolved in Africa or Western Asia…. the study of two new mandibles recovered from Gran Dolina-TD6 revealed that H. antecessor shared some features with Homo erectus from China and Java… as it was also suggested with the dental evidence… These similarities could imply that the relationship between the Asian and the European fossils is closer than that with the African samples.


Author Eric

FSU grad, US Navy Veteran. Houston, Texas

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Duncan says:

    Erik — thanks for digging up the original article from 2019, although I had better luck avoiding weird pop-ups by viewing the pdf version:

    If this now-celebrated Chinese find is to be labelled a new species then hold on to your seats, because by those standards there are going to be dozens of new phantom “species” in the coming years.

    What the evidence is really suggesting that we’ve misunderstood human development and the paradigms we always thought were rock solid clearly are not.

    We thought if the fossil made tools it was a human ancestor. No.

    We thought if the critter could walk upright like a man it was a human ancestor. Nope.

    We thought if the species controlled fire it was a human ancestor. Floresiensis and naledi make this doubtful.

    We thought if a hominin had a chimp-sized brain it had the intellect of one. No no no.

    We thought only human ancestors had language and culture. That’s been disspelled everywhere, just everywhere.

    And as politically correct as it was, the Chris Springer “Out of Africa Theory” has been conclusively disproven by an avalanche of field and genetic evidence.

    Except for a few now sprinkling fairy dust down in South Africa, the academic field by and large has had a stifling lack of imagination — and not over things unanticipated but known factors staggeringly underestimated.

    Most of it has to do with the scale of time. It is hard for sapiens with less than a century lifespan to comprehend the duration of its evolution and the slow dynamics of geographical/environmental change.

    According to dating methods, this new Chinese find is between 272,00 and 345,000 years old. That’s 15,000 generations ago. There have been three glacial periods since then. The Sahara was a tropical jungle 6000 years ago. The history of Science goes back 5000 years.

    So this fossil has no chin. Another fossil a million years ago and thousands of miles away didn’t happen to have a chin, either.

    We haven’t figured out how and why some hominin chins exist in the first place. We’re a long way from making definitive statements about human evolution over it.

  • Duncan says:

    Regarding these Chinese specimens: Trying to wend my way through dental morphology descriptions gives me hemorrhoids so I gloss over them, but the cranial size of this HLD 6 skull comes in at 1150cc and to me it all looks consistent with an advanced Homo erectus type with an especially gracile jaw. Well, he was only 12.

    What’s interesting is that in 2019 they describe the data as: “a suite of morphological features that place it comfortably within the previously known Middle to early Late Pleistocene East Asian human variation and trends.”

    Today in 2023, exactly the same data, it is being characterized in the media as “researchers theorize that HLD 6 must belong to a classification that hasn’t yet been given a name.”

    This new brouhaha over 4 year old data highlights a growing problem with some of the narratives of regional scientific finds.

    In South Africa, you’ve got the black activist climbing through the Homo naledi cave system documenting “science” when her previous forensic experience was documenting the “genocide” of black folks at the hands of the white colonial imperialists. You know the ones — not the colonists who taught them hygiene and medicine and lifesaving technologies — the ones who fled South Africa running for their lives and the ones who haven’t fled South Africa who are now being murdered there as official state policy because of the color of their skin. If the black racist acolyte wasn’t coopted into the team would Berger still be permitted site access?

    The Communist government in China is giddy, absolutely giddy with new hominin finds in their country and are giving them the official greenlight — as long they appear to promote their narrative that China is the true cradle of humanity and that all human beings are actually Chinamen. You don’t have to be a genius to know where the totalitarian regime is headed: Europeans and Africans are obviously less racially “pure,” less human, and more enemy.

  • Eric says:

    Very well written. I could run this as a full blown article, if you could give me your full name. Can’t do it if you want to remain anonymous.

    You should know I’m working up a Youtube video from this article. You should check out my Youtube channel and leave comments there too. Not sure why you don’t do that?

    • Duncan says:

      Thanks for the compliments, Eric. I’ll send you an email.

      As for the Chinese propaganda in their paleoanthropology, I have to say that we have it coming.

      For decades the Western media has bought into the stupid narrative that the cradle of humanity was in Africa and they loved trumpeting “we are all Africans.” While it injects the question as to why African cultures and the continent are the dirtwater of the planet when they had a million years head start, it did offer the Chinese the perfect template.

      “We are all Chinese” is the coming mantra.

      “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
      — Mark Twain

  • Duncan says:

    Re-reading my previous post, I see that I misnamed Chris Stringer as “Chris Springer.” I wasn’t confusing him with Jerry Springer, it was either a typo or my random synapse misfire.

    Chris Stringer is actually a solid incremental scientist and an asset to paleoanthropology and the world.

    But seeing as how Homo erectus had been found in Java and China for about a century now, it was always obvious that his Out of Africa theory was goofy.

  • Howard says:

    I recently found this site and make no claim of being versed in human evolution paleotonlogy but that branch of science has proven itself utterly incapable in the last 40 years, fraught with political bias to serve the “politically correct” social “engineering” agenda, that i find it repugnant at this point to read their papers. As a mathematician and physicist i know what rigor, integrity in rational thinking are and i see very little of it in that field which has failed to build a solid foundation for the study of human evolution. Even the notion of species is a joke at this point, as we know it’s not un-ordinary for different but related species to successfully produce offsprings that are fertile contrary to what was long thought.
    Yet, the things i notice starkingly in daily life are never talked about by these charlatans and should be, things that are obvious like huge differences in anatomy that are consistents between africans on one side and europeans and asians on the other. For example, to prove the point you can give me any picture showing only the lower back of an individual standing and from the shape of the spine that invariably sticks out at the butt for africans i correctly identify them. This is clearly a remnant from more recent quadripedal form of locomotion.
    Another example is Asian skulls. Their homo erectus ancestors make they skull look flattened like a bean and higher like an oval bar of soap, while europeans have more front to back length. Why is this completely ignored ? This is very consistent. Even nervous system are different, take eye blinking patterns of asians compared to whites there’s a stark similarity between all asians eye blinking that is very different than europeans. Look at it next time you observe asians. It’s clear to me that we are all different branches of apes that happen to still be fertile but subsaharans africans are far more different and archaic and remotely related.
    I disagree that what we call races are the same thing and reject the whole idea of homo sapiens being one human kind today. What we have is that the construct of “species” which is man-made is faulty and what exists are long duration of times probably 500,000 years to 1M years where two clearly differentiated animals can mix- breed but very slowly progressively loose that ability if they stay separated enough geographically. It starts from mixed breeds higher infant mortality, to miscarriage to eventually the female ovule no longer being fertilized by the sperm or the foetus failing to follow all evolution steps. At which stage should the two groups of creatures called different species ? It depends on how conservative you want to be.
    I believe the negroid group is too different and has shown to cause major problem when kept within the social order of other humanoid forms. It should be allowed to live in its own habitat and its latest technology known which is the stone age in africa and not be used as a tool for social pressure and political tension by a minority in power.

    • Duncan says:

      “you can give me any picture showing only the lower back of an individual standing and from the shape of the spine that invariably sticks out at the butt for africans i correctly identify them. This is clearly a remnant from more recent quadripedal form of locomotion.”

      No. Bipedalism in the human lineage is millions of years old and is functionally the same with all modern races. The morphology of black folks comes from other factors.

      “the negroid group is too different and has shown to cause major problem when kept within the social order of other humanoid forms.”

      You must be familiar with Democrat cities.

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