The teeth were small, but resembled those of modern humans. A total of seven teeth, two finger pads, two toe pads and a thigh bone have been dug up from the cave, and all those elements are probably from two adults and a child.
Filipino scientists have discovered a new human species in a cave on the largest island in the country, Luzon. The first remains of bones and teeth were already found in 2007 by the archaeologist Armand Mijares.
He first thought that he had the remains of an animal in his hands, but in the 12 years that followed, research and other findings showed that it is a new branch of the genus Homo, which includes Homo erectus and of course Homo sapiens.
Teeth resembles that of current people
The researchers baptized the new species Homo luzonensis, to the island. Remnants of a total of three different individuals of the species were found, who lived between 50,000 and 67,000 years ago.
Homo luzonensis was a caveman, and his teeth were very similar to those of modern humans. However, the bones are very small, and the archaeologists estimate that the species was less than 1.20 meters long. Scientists worldwide are delighted with the find.
"This is definitely one of the most important finds that we will see in the coming years," says paleoanthropologist Aida Gómez-Robles, who examined the study for publication.
The teeth were small, but resembled those of modern humans. A total of seven teeth, two finger pads, two toe pads and a thigh bone have been dug up from the cave, and all those elements are probably from two adults and a child.© Callao Cave Archeology Project
The earth was full of human species
The Filipino find makes it clear that the Homo genus had spread over more parts of the earth than the researchers had imagined.
In recent years it has become clear that Homo sapiens, the 'hobbit' Homo floresiensis, the Denisovamens, the Neanderthal and now also Homo luzonensis all appeared on earth around 50,000 years ago.
Some of these human species sought each other out and had children together, which can still be seen in the genetic material of modern humans.
The origin of Luzon man is a mystery
It is still a mystery if Homo luzonensis had contact with other species and where the small cavemen come from.
Possibly they descended from the early human species Homo erectus, which left Africa about 1.5 million years ago - and perhaps ended up in Luzon. Here the African migrants may have shrunk through their thousands of years of isolation to Homo luzonensis.
Homo luzonensis, however, can also come from a completely different human species that left Africa before Homo erectus. That would be sensational, because then we have to completely revise the early exodus of humans from Africa.
Both the toe and finger legs are crooked in Homo luzonensis, which, according to researchers, indicates that they were handy tree climbers. This toe leg is approximately 2.5 centimeters long.© Callao Cave Archeology Project
The researchers hope to find useful DNA from the Luzon bones, so they might get an answer to the many questions they have.
It has not yet been successful, but if it comes to it, the researchers can gain important knowledge about the relationship of Homo luzonensis with other human species, and with it about the origin of the small Filipino caveman.
The Callao cave is located in the far north of the large Filipino island of Luzon. The cave has been in the spotlight since 2007 among paleoanthropologists.© Google Maps