Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Mystery of Red Deer Cave | Popular Archaeology - exploring the past

The Mystery of Red Deer Cave | Popular Archaeology - exploring the past:

It wasn’t altogether unique to find fossils of archaic humans in these parts. But what Curnoe and his colleagues found most noteworthy about these archaic human fossils was their unusual combination of primitive and modern features, coupled with the late date range—a time almost exclusively attributed to the presence of anatomically modern humans (AMH). All other species of human, at least in these regions of China, were thought to have gone extinct tens of thousands of years earlier. The finds harkened back to the sensational discovery made in 2003 on the island of Flores in Indonesia, where scientists recovered and identified skeletal remains of another unusual species of human with archaic features—Homo floresiensis, popularly known as the “hobbit”. That human, determined to have occupied the site possibly as late as only 12,000 years ago, featured a very small (average 3 feet tall) body and small cranium or brain capacity, and a mosaic of other features, including a Homo erectus-like skull with a chinless mandible. The Red Deer Cave finds, on the other hand, featured an altogether different mosaic of anatomical features, decidedly different than Homo floresiensis and any other known species of human in the paleontological record. This species sported long, tall, broad frontal brain lobes much like modern humans, but they also featured more primitive characteristics such as a smaller brain capacity, thick skull bones, a prominent brow ridge, a jutting jaw that lacked a chin, a flat upper face with a broad nose, and large molars. Other features were unique to the Red Deer Cave specimen, shared by neither archaic or modern humans, such as a very curved forehead bone, very broad eye sockets and very flat, flaring cheeks.  “In short,” Curnoe told a LiveScience reporter, “they’re anatomically unique among all members of the human evolutionary tree.”

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