Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fossil Discovery in China May Be New Unknown Human Species

As scientists, we're always constantly finding new fossil records that are breaking our conventional thoughts on our ancestors. We have set ideals on how we as a species evolved through time to the current state we're at now as "modern humans". But once in a while we stumble upon ancient evidence that is more bizarre than we could have ever imagined, and raises more questions than answers. We're always trying to piece together the puzzle that is our evolutionary ancestry. Each time we stumble across a new fossil record, it adds to that puzzle.

In China, they found new fossils that are carbon dated between 11,500 and 14,500 years old, precluding that they were around when modern humans were in China. Scientists working on this new found group haven't yet scientifically supported whether they're a whole other group closely related to humans such as neanderthals, or actually human. One reason is that it's difficult to even discern what makes us homo sapiens to begin with, let alone distinguish a possible whole new species of ape.

Scientists are interested in these new fossil records because they lived in caves in China that has evidence of them cooking Red deer, a large extinct deer, during the time when early man was starting to farm. Yet, they have odd anatomical features not congruent to our understanding of our ancestors, which is odd and exciting. The red deer cave people as they're called for their living habitats and diet, have prominent brow ridges, thick skull bones, flat upper faces with a broad nose, jutting jaws that lack a human-like chin, brains moderate in size by ice age human standards, large molar teeth, and primitively short parietal lobes — brain lobes at the top of the head associated with sensory data. All of these features are found in ancient humans hundreds of thousands of years ago, not just a couple thousands of years as these fossils suggest. It's fascinating just to think about this. Simply, the red deer cave people are possibly a whole new branch of human, as they don't fit with our conventional thought of humans during this time.

Now that the studying scientists have covered the possibility of finding a new human species. It opens up questions that have yet to be answered. Such as, if these primitive human features did survive up to modern humans, why did they go extinct all of a sudden? Did this new fossil group genetically interbreed itself with modern day humans? Or did they fall in line with neanderthals? What whatever the possible outcome of their study, it's a evolutionary breakthrough for humans in understanding our development as a species.

Posted By: Andy Zou (C)


  1. I had heard about this but never actually read into it until now. This is a very interesting find and I wonder if there are other examples of events like this in other parts of the world? The idea that there were other possible types of humans opens up a lot of questions and I look forward to reading more on this in the future.

    Posted by Nicco Ciccolini

  2. This is such a neat article. I think it's interesting to see the physical differences between humans that we thought were around at the time and the humans in the article. This is certainly a great step in the argument for evolution and I hope to see more of this discovery.

    Posted By Erica Bonnell

  3. This is pretty neat! I think morphologically there are lot of small cultures and communities that still exist in all parts of the world from Africa, to Eskimo communities to many nomadic cultures in China and Russia that are prone to the Founder effect and display similar morphological features to those described, such as large brow bones (obviously not as intense or thick) but it doesn't make me doubt that it's possible to have cultures and communities of individuals that haven't evolved genetically as much as cultures where intermixing has occurred on such a large scale, like urban areas in the U.S and Europe and other international cities and areas with dense populations.

    Karen Melendez