Fossil Found May Reveal New Type of Ancient Human

Photo+Courtesy+of+www.wptv.com

Photo Courtesy of www.wptv.com

An ancient human fossil discovered from the seafloor near Taiwan reveals that a primitive group of humans, potentially an unknown species, once lived in Asia, according to livescience.com.

The unlikely find could be nearly 200,000 years old and suggests a fourth type of ancient human who lived in Asia long before Homo sapiens ever came to be. Three other known archaic Asian hominids include Homo erectus, found in Java and China; the shorter Homo floresiensis from Indonesia; and Neanderthals in the Russian Altai mountains, stated CNN.com.

According to livescience.com, Scientists believe that human jaws and teeth became smaller as they evolved. But unlike other fossils of the time, the newly discovered jawbone is thick with large molars, suggesting the existence of a different group. These findings imply that multiple lineages of extinct humans may have coexisted in Asia before the arrival of modern humans in the region about 40,000 years ago, the scientists added.

“The new Taiwan mandible is clearly different than the known Homo erectus populations from northern China and Java, and likely represents a group that has been unrecognized so far,” researcher Dr. Yousuke Kaifu told CNN. “It’s only one piece, but the significance is huge.”

Researchers from Taiwan and Japan named the ancient human “Penghu 1,” after the Penghu Channel where the fossil was found. The team spent five years analyzing the bone, which was difficult to date because it had been recovered from the sea, stated CNN.com.

“The findings reminded me that our knowledge is always very limited, and we have very limited fossil records,” said Kaifu. “That’s a great lesson for me.”