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Researchers found the remains of a new human species in a cave in the Philippines.
The remains were excavated from Callao Cave on the Philippine island of Luzon. To honor the island, the new species was named Homo luzonensis.
During excavation, the researchers found bones believed to belong to one child and two adults. They retrieved a thigh bone, two hand bones, three foot bones, and seven teeth dated about 50,000 to 67,000 years ago.
The Homo luzonensis foot bones are curved, which suggests that the species was capable of climbing trees efficiently but that it could also walk normally. This characteristic is also present in Australopithecus, which are ape-like ancient human species from two to three million years ago.
The researchers also noted small teeth – some of which bear a resemblance to the teeth of Homo sapiens or modern humans. Teeth shape usually reflects a person’s size, so researchers speculate that Homo luzonensis were shorter than four feet.
Although the Homo luzonensis fossils are comparable to other human species, the combination of the foot bones and teeth patterns implies that it is new.
One mystery for the researchers is how the species wound up in Luzon. Since Luzon has always been an island and has never been connected to other places by land bridges, the researchers said that the species may have washed up on the island during a natural disaster. They also speculate that the species may have built and used a boat to reach Luzon.
With more speculations and questions, the researchers plan to continue studying and searching for more clues about Homo luzonensis.