Chinese researchers have discovered a fossil of a skull that could belong to a completely new species of man, which could change the opinions of scientists about the evolution of our species.
The scientific team claims to be the closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient humans, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus, the BBC reports.
Researchers have reported that the fossilized skull, at least 146,000 years old, was hidden in an abandoned well in China for 88 years, where it was left in 1933 by a worker who discovered it in a construction site during the Japanese occupation.
He hid it at the bottom of the family well and, before he died, trusted his family, so in the end the skull fell into the hands of scientists.
Researchers named the new species Homo longi, nicknamed “the dragon man” after the area around the Long River (Dragon) in northeastern China, where it was discovered, and its analysis was published in three articles in the magazine “Innovation” (The Innovation).
One of Britain’s leading experts on human evolution, Professor Christopher Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London and co-author of two of the three works on the human dragon, was a member of this research team and believes one of the most important discovered so far.
“We have found our brother lineage for a long time,” says Zion Ni, co-author of the study and paleoanthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Researchers claim that the skull belonged to Homo longi, a fairly tall adult. They claim he had straight cheeks and a wide mouth. The lower jaw is missing from the skull, but researchers based on the upper jaw of the dragon man and other fossilized human skulls conclude that it did not have a developed chin. He also said his brain was about seven percent larger than the brains of today’s people.
Scientists believe that the Dragon Man had strong physical strength, but very little is known about how he lived, as his skull was removed from the place where he was found, which means that there is currently no archaeological context, such as now stone tools or other cultural elements to which it belonged.
Many puzzles remain unresolved at this stage in human history, especially in East Asia. Over the past few decades, paleoanthropologists have found several fossils, which have some features that make them look like our species and other features that suggest they belong elsewhere.
There is heated scientific debate as to whether these remains represent primitive examples of Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, a human group called Denisovans, discovered in Denis Cave in Russia, or whether they are something else entirely.
Zion Ni believes that discussions on this topic will continue and believes that it is good because it is precisely because scientists do not agree that science is advancing.