Scientists have recently dated and described fossils from what may be a new species of hominid, the Red Deer Cave people. The discovery could shed new light on emergence of humankind in East Asia.
REUTERS/David Reich et al./Nature/Handout
The fossils were found in Longlin Cave in China's Guangxi Province in 1979 and in Maludong Cave in Yunnan Province in 1989. The bone fragments may have belonged to a previously unknown species of Homo, the same genus as modern humans.
The Red Deer Cave people, as scientists are calling them, share some features with modern humans. But they also differ, suggesting that, for much of our history, Homo sapiens in East Asia might have co-existed, and perhaps competed, with other animals that could also lay claim to the designation 'human.'
"It is clear that they share no particular affinity with either Pleistocene East Asians," say the researchers in their recent paper reported in the journal PLoS ONE. They don't seem to be related to modern East Asians either.