An international team of researchers in China discovered an ancient skull that defies conventional notions of early human evolution.
Groundbreaking discovery: Dating back approximately 300,000 years, the skull was unearthed in the Hualongdong region of eastern China in 2015, alongside 15 other specimens purportedly from the late Middle Pleistocene period. The find could reshape the human family tree, hinting at the existence of an entirely new branch in our evolutionary history.
Remarkable find: The study, authored by scientists from China, Spain and the United Kingdom, was published in the Journal of Human Evolution on July 31. The research team detailed the remarkable traits of the mandible, known as HLD 6.
María Martinón-Torres, director of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Spain noted how “HLD 6 is ‘unexpected’ and does not fit into any existing taxonomic groups.” According to Martinón-Torres, “Hualongdong are thus the earliest fossil population known in Asia to present this mosaic of primitive and H. sapiens-like features.”
Mosaic of features: Experts were amazed at the fossil’s features, which bear a mosaic of traits reminiscent of both modern Homo sapiens and another distinct lineage, the Denisovans, an ancient hominin lineage that diverged from Neanderthals approximately 400,000 years ago. The researchers also acknowledged that further excavations and studies are needed to completely unravel the complexities of humanity’s origins.
“The discovery challenges the prevailing linear interpretations of human evolution, suggesting a more complex interplay of lineages,” noted professor Chen Wei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.