Scientists hail stunning ‘Dragon Man’ discovery
By Pallab Ghosh
IMAGE COPYRIGHT KAI GENG The Dragon Man’s skull is huge, with a brain size about the same as the average for our species
Chinese researchers have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human.
The team has claimed it is our closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient human, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.
Nicknamed “Dragon Man”, the specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.
It was found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, but only came to the attention of scientists more recently.
An analysis of the skull has been published in the journal The Innovation.
“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” he told BBC News.
“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.”