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
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
An 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 Phys.org, August 4,
Remains found in China may belong to third human lineage
The 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
A 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 ScienceDirect.com, 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.