A team of scientists has discovered two partial human skulls in central China that could possibly belong to an unspecified archaic human species. The skulls are 105,000 to 125,000 years old, and they carry a distinctive blend of contemporary human and Neanderthal features. The skulls were found during excavations at Lingjing, Xuchang County in Henan Province, between 2007 and 2014.
No Identification of the Skulls Yet
Despite the initial excitement that the new discovery brought to the team of archaeologists, they have simply labelled the two fossilized skulls as belonging to “archaic Homo” since no DNA analysis has been able to be extracted from the extremely ancient samples as yet, so any further identification would be impossible for now. Researchers from both the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and at Washington University in St. Louis described the skulls as having a “mosaic” of features. Writing Thursday in the journal Science, they pointed out similarities with three groups:
The crania elucidate the pattern of human morphological evolution in eastern Eurasia. Some features are ancestral and similar to those of earlier eastern Eurasian humans, some are derived and shared with contemporaneous or later humans elsewhere, and some are closer to those of Neanderthals. The analysis illuminates shared long-term trends in human adaptive biology and suggests the existence of interconnections between populations across Eurasia during the later Pleistocene.
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