An enormous human skull, hidden there 90 years ago, has been discovered in a Chinese well. The find is forcing scientists to rewrite the history of human evolution, says The Guardian.
After analyzing the fossil, they conclude that there must have been another branch of the human family tree. It is an unknown sister group that is more related to modern humans than to Neanderthals.
The special fossil has been labeled by Chinese scientists as a new human species, Homo longi or ‘dragonman’, although other scientists do not fully agree that it is a new species. They see similarities with other fossils found in the area. This does not alter the fact that there is consensus about the great importance of this find.
An international team led by Professor Qiang Ji of Heibei Geo University used geochemical techniques to determine when the skull found its final resting place in Harbin. The fossil is estimated to be at least 146,000 years old. The skull has a unique combination of primitive and modern features.
The skull is 23 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide. That is substantially bigger than the head of modern people. There is plenty of room for the modern human brain. “This man had a huge head,” Chris Stringer, research leader at the Natural History Museum in London, told the British newspaper.
The researchers believe the skull belonged to a 50-year-old man of impressive stature. His broad, bulbous nose allowed him to inhale a lot of oxygen, indicating a lifestyle that required a lot of energy. Its size is also said to have helped it endure the freezing cold winters in the area. “Homo longi is heavily built, very robust,” said Professor Xijun Ni from Hebei. “It is difficult to estimate how tall he was, but his enormous head probably rested on a body much larger than the average modern person.”