New Species of Ancient Human Found in the Philippines

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. remains / rɪˈmeɪnz / (n) – things left behind after something has already gone or after someone has died

    The remains of the king were buried in the castle.

  2. excavate / ˈɛks kəˌveɪt / (v) – to make a hole in the ground to uncover something

    Researchers are planning to excavate an old mine that was rumored to be filled with ancient tools.

  3. bear a resemblance to (something) / bɛər ə rɪˈzɛm bləns tu / (idiom) – to have similarities with something

    This painting bears a resemblance to the one I saw in the museum.

  4. imply / ɪmˈplaɪ / (v) – to indirectly communicate something

    The animal drawings on the wall of the cave imply that ancient humans were hunters.

  5. wind up / ˈwaɪnd ʌp / (phrasal) – to reach a particular place

    There were no vacant hotel rooms anymore, so we wound up in a cheap motel.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What other information should the researchers try to discover about the new species (e.g. diet, physical appearance, behavior)?
• Why do you think it is important to study ancient humans? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think humans would physically change in the next hundreds of thousands of years (e.g. bigger thumbs due to smartphone use)? Speculate.
• What characteristic or lifestyle would you want future generations to discover about humans of this era (e.g. innovative)? Discuss.