A new research on the decades-old skull has started a debate on the origin of human history. An allegedly human skull with the elongated cranium that was discovered in China in the 1930s has stunned scientists. The new discovery forced them to believe that there might have been another human species that lived at least 146,000 years ago.
In the early 1930s, a strange skull was found in China’s northernmost province by the construction workers while building a bridge near Harbin, China. It was not any ordinary human skull. It had an elongated cranium with a heavy brow bone.
A professor at the Hebei GEO University named Qiang Ji published a new study on the skull in the journal “The Innovation.” He stated that the skull unlocked new branches in understanding the origin of the human species.
According to the research, Harbin cranium, “Dragon Man” or “Homo longi” could be a new human species. It shows a mosaic combination of plesiomorphic and apomorphic features. Its name is derived from the geographic name Long Jiang, which is the common usage for the Heilongjiang Province and literally means a “dragon river.”
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Paleontologist Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum believes that it is one of the best preserved skulls of all ancient human fossils.
The researchers assumed that Dragon Man had co-existed with several other extinct human species, such as Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis), and Denisovans around 100,000 years ago.
The Harbin cranium belongs to a male that died at least 146,000 years ago. It shares striking features of both archaic and modern humans, adding it to the list of human evolution. This extinct human species was massive in size with a very large cranial. It had an extremely wide upper face with almost square eye sockets.
The history of Dragon Man is quite cinematic. The skull was discovered after the Japanese invaded northeast China in the early 1930s. A Chinese man who found it in 1933 in Harbin City did not want to turn it over to the Japanese, so he buried it in an abandoned well. The skull remained there for 85 years until the man told his family about it before his death in 2018. His family gave the skull to the Geoscience Museum of Hebei GEO University for research.
The scientists could not find the cause of the death of Dragon Man, but they suggested that he had died at the age of 50. The skull was analyzed by Prof. Ji Stringer and his team.
Stringer said: “The skull has a large brain capacity, fully within the range of modern humans and Neanderthals.” Further, he said that the skull looks similar to our species. The team did a deep analysis of the skull, suggesting that Harbin cranium and other fossils from China China form a “third lineage of humans that lived alongside the Neanderthals and H. sapiens.
After many millions of tree-building processes, we arrived at the most parsimonious trees,” Stringer said. He added that Homo Longi is closer to Homo Sapiens than Neanderthals.
There is also a disputed theory suggested by three scientists who were not involved in the study. They think that the Harbin cranium could be a Denisovan fossil.
Silvana Condemi, a paleoanthropologist at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France said: “I have carefully read the anatomical and phylogenetic study. The published data leads me to consider this fossil as a particular fossil that could be a Denisovan.”
Antonio Rosas, a paleobiologist from Spain, and Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a researcher in human evolution from France both supported the theory suggested by Condemi.