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Meet Homo luzonensis

Meet Homo luzonensis

Do you remember back in school? Teachers taught us about our evolutionary ancestry. Remember the names of the hominin species. Projectors flashing the names and images of Australopithecus, H. habilis, H. erectus, Neanderthal, and our nearest ancestors H. sapien on the board during class. Then we crammed their names into our minds so we could pass our examinations.

But the schooling we got only gave us a glimpse of the true magnitude of our family tree. We left out numerous hominins from our discussion. Hominins like H. floresiensis, Denisovans, and many others are sometimes chopped out of the lecture. Understandably, skipping some of these hominins is necessary. Given the time constraints and limits of a person’s intake of such knowledge. While implementing newly discovered hominins into the school curriculum is difficult, to say the least.

Owing to this discrepancy of attention. Let us discuss the other hominins. For this article let us talk about the newly discovered Homo luzonensis.

Understanding luzonensis!

Discovering H. luzonensis started with an archeological dig in 2007 at Callao Cave in Northern Luzon. Leading the dig was Dr. Mijares, an archaeologist at the University of the Philippines Diliman. And helping him in the dig was a team of multidisciplinary experts from inside and outside the Philippines. By 2019, Dr. Mijares and his team introduced to the world a new species of an ancient human named H. luzonensis.

Infographic of human origin by Jason Treat, NGM Staff
Photo Credit: Jason Treat, NGM Staff

Considered to be the earliest known human remains in the Philippines. The remains date back 50 to 67 thousand years old. This place luzonensis in the Paleolithic period. Study shows that this new species could have a stature of 4 feet or 121 cm. Furthermore, looking at the bones of its feet led the experts to conclude that luzonensis was bipedal like the rest of the hominin. But some differences in their bone shows they were possibly good tree climbers. While the remains from their teeth present evidence that luzonesis evolved from H. erectus due to their similarities. This places luzonensis in a similar position as another hominin found in southeast Asia, H. floresiensis otherwise known as the Hobbit due to its stature resembling that of the fictional creature. The experts also found More intriguing stone tools near the butchered remains of a rhinoceros (Nesorhinus philippinensis).

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Fossils of Homo luzonensis. Photo Credit: Homo luzonensis Press release
Fossils of Homo luzonensis. Photo Credit: Homo luzonensis Press release

This new discoveries give credence to the argument that the dispersal of hominin in the Southeast Asia region is more recently than previously thought. This means hominin could possibly be rafting or boating at a much earlier date. This shows that many of the hominins were much more intelligent than we give them credit for.

A Bright Future for Archeology

Dr. Armand Mijares. Photo Credit: Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News
Dr. Armand Mijares. Photo Credit: Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

Even though the discovery of luzonensis gave many answers to our questions, but it also poses many more questions about our origins. Like did they intermingle with other hominins that migrated to the area? Or why did they go extinct? More research must done to answer these questions. This brings a bright future for the field of archeology in the Philippines. As Dr. Mijates said, “Now, we [Filipinos and Southeast Asians] can be actively engaged in the debate, because our areas—our sites—are now recognized,”

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