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Callao Cave Philippines

Researchers discover fossils in Calleo Cave indicating a new hominid species

Scientists have reported the discovery of an unknown species of human beings who resided in the Philippines almost 50,000 years before. The recently found evidence shows that new species, Homo luzonensis was very small in size and maybe even smaller than the Hobbit species which was discovered in the Flores island back in 2004.

This discovery has made the timeline of human evolution very messy but nonetheless fascinating due to the discovery of the species which was previously not known. Small pieces of bones and teeth were found from the Callao Cave in the Philippines island of Luzon. The fossils found in the Callao Cave give clues of many features which have been totally unknown to the researchers. Hence it makes the statement for the declaration of a new human species, Homo luzonensis. This discovery was reported in the Nature journal.

This is a breakthrough discovery as it is not regular to find about new human species. The discovery of Homo luzonensis can reveal facts about human evolution and what happened to the ones who left Africa thousands of years before.

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In 2010, a single human foot bone was discovered in Calleo Cave which was dated at 67000 years old. This was the first evidence that humans have been present in Philippines for quite some time. We have known that hominins, the group of primates who are more closely related to us than chimpanzees lived in Philippines as early as 700,000 years ago.

The hominins are not exactly our direct ancestors but they can be considered as close relatives. Each species had their own evolutionary journey as they adapted to changing environments and circumstances. Around 50,000 years ago in Africa, there were many human species in Africa and Eurasia.

The team of scientists led by Florent Détroit, National Museum of Natural History located in France and Armand Mijares, University of the Philippines who found the foot bone in Philippines have tried to gather more evidence around Calleo Cave. The excavations have led to the discovery of 12 hominin elements in all which includes a thigh bone, and several bones of hands and feet. Scientists have identified them belonging to two adults and one child. Unfortunately, there was no genetic evidence present in these specimens.

Analysis of the specimens gives rise to the conclusion that the species, Homo Luzonensis have been very small compared to the present size of human beings. Scientists suspect that they may have been subjected to insular dwarfism, a condition where the size of a species gets significantly reduced due to very less to the resources needed for development.

Although some of the scientists feel it is too soon to declare the luzonensis a new species and that only another set of fossils complemented by DNA and mark them as a new Homo member.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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