Scientists believe they might have found a new species of human after discovering ancient skull
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Featured Image Credit: Wu et al., Journal of Human Evolution
A research team says an ancient skull discovered a few years ago could prove to be a new human species and rewrite evolution.
It was first discovered in Hualongdong, China, back in 2019 and has been studied ever since.
The researchers working alongside China's Xi'an Jiaotong University, the UK's University of York, and Spain's National Research Center on Human Evolution, believe this fossil, otherwise known as HLD 6, may prove there’s a missing link in the human family tree.
In 2019, limb remains were also found along with the skull, which scientists say belonged to a 12 or 13 child around 300,000 years ago.
While the skull 'did not possess a true chin,' it makes it more Denisovan-like – a subspecies that split from Neanderthals more than 400,000 years ago.
However, its facial structure resembles modern humans while its limbs, skull cap, and chin ‘seem to reflect more primitive traits’.
Researchers believe that the skull indicates an entirely new lineage of hominins - a hybrid between the branch leading to modern humans and the one that led to Denisovans.
Homo sapiens only began emerging in Asia 120,000 years ago, which would mean there’s a third missing link in the hominin family tree in Asia.
"The combination of both archaic and modern human features identified in the HLD 6 mandible is unexpected, given its late Middle Pleistocene age,” scientists write.
"This mosaic pattern has never been recorded in late Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil assemblages in East Asia."
This isn’t the first time the theory of evolution has been challenged.
It's widely known that humans came out of Africa millions of years ago; however, researchers discovered hominid footprints on the Greek island of Crete made 5.7 million years ago.
Professor Per Ahlberg, an author of the study, states that while the theory is controversial, our ancestors could have been in Europe far earlier than scientists thought, as per The Independent.
"This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate," he said.
"Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen."