Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Previously Unknown Ancient Man Found!

A mandible of an archaic man in Taiwan (Penghu) was discovered, adding to the diversity of man during the Pleistocene Era. This jaw belonged to a type of man who existed perhaps as much as 190,000 years ago.

Source:  Recent studies emphasize some degree of regional and chronological variation within Asian H. erectus, dismissing the previous claim that this species was an example of evolutionary stasis. Furthermore, the diversity of archaic Asian hominins is highlighted by the discovery of a diminutive species, H. floresiensis, that evolved in isolation on the East Indonesian island of Flores from as early as ~1.0 million years ago; genetic evidence indicates that during the Late Pleistocene Neanderthals ranged from Europe to as far east as the Russian Altai in Southern Siberia; The discovery of ancient DNA distinct from both Neanderthals and modern humans has even led to the proposal of a new population, the ‘Denisovans,’ from Denisova Cave in the Altai. Still, much of eastern Asia remains unsearched for fossil evidence of hominin occupation. Clearer documentations of morphological variations based on more fossil materials are essential to understand human evolution in this region.

Some have debated if this could possibly be a jaw of a Denisovan. A Denisovan finger bone and two "very large" molars were found in a cave in Siberia, dating back about 41,000 years and existing alongside Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, but Denisovan was a distinctly different fellow from his companions, according to DNA studies. Present day Melanesians and Australian aborigines have about 3-5% DNA from the Denisovans. Approximately 1-4% of non-African DNA has Neanderthal genes.  

Interestingly, this jaw resembles one found in China of a 400,000-year-old one that was described as "robust." They are still working to determine if this Penghu is a distinct species or related to another identifiable hominin in the Pleistocene. 

It would seem that this is just the beginning of lots of finds to be made. The earth holds many secrets and every now and then our world is shaken when it spits out a game-changing relic. 

More Info: 
Nature Publication article
More about Penghu
Intriguing discussion

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