Homo luzonensis Discovery – What Does it Mean for Anthropology Research?

Homo luzonensis Discovery – What Does it Mean for Anthropology Research?

The human race’s history and ancestry is an exciting but complicated affair, with various subspecies and variants that current humans share ancestral ties with. In 2019, a new branch of the human ancestral tree was discovered in a far-off cave in the Philippines. The first evidence of this hominid species was initially found in 2007 in Callao Cave, situated on Luzon’s Filipino island. Dating methods showed that the evidence was 67000 years old.

Credit: SWNS:South West News Service https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/8836154/human-species-discovered-philippines-cave/
Credit: SWNS:South West News Service

Context of this Species

According to the researchers who first discovered evidence of this species in the form of a third metatarsal bone, this subspecies – categorized as Homo luzonensis, lived in the Luzon area more than 60-67,000 years ago. According to these scientists, this bone fragment is evidence that there was a significant human presence in the Luzon islands even in far-off prehistoric times. At first, the exact species that the bone was from was unclear to the researchers.

The leader of this project and one of this study’s co-authors are Armand Mijares, an archaeology and anthropology professor at the University of the Philippines. For a very long time, the Filipino archipelago has been absent from discoveries of hominid species. This significant discovery makes Luzon the third Southeast Asian island to bear evidence of prehistoric human activity. The authors state that the morphological features of the bones are very different from that of other genera.

Challenging the Outdated Idea

Ever since Darwin introduced the concept of evolution, there has been a misconception that evolution was a neat and natural progression that drove the human race from less to more progressed. The discovery of H. luzonensis is a meaningful one because it acts as direct evidence that this neat progression idea is entirely outdated and wrong. This species’ presence highlights the rich level of diversity present in the archaic hominid species.

Finding Hominid Evidence in Asian Islands

It was an unexpected affair to find hominid remains in the East Asian Islands because most of these structures were not connected by land bridges. Even if earlier tribes attempted migrations, they would be stopped immediately by the deep oceans and the treacherous currents. This conception changed completely when evidence of Homo floresiensis (aka the “hobbit”), a diminutive form of the current human race, was found in Florens’ Indonesian island in 2004.

This discovery inspired Dr. Mijares to properly explore the Callao cave, which eventually led to discovering these bone fragments. After digging through more than 5 feet of clay, Mijares and his team found a nearly complete bone fragment that looked human. Upon further analysis, the scientists were able to confirm that the bone was human-like. In 2010, they discovered another small fossil – which led the team to believe they had found the Luzon analog to the Florens species.

The teeth’ small sizes show that this species was more “modern” and advanced, but some of the other properties were very different. The most significant finding from this discovery is that the Southeast Asian islands were home to human-like species.

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