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Photos: Newfound Ancient Human Relative Discovered in Philippines

Giant cave

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

After years of excavation, researchers have discovered bones from a previously unknown hominin in Callao Cave, on Luzon Island in the Philippines. This new hominin is in the same genus as Homo sapiens. Its name is Homo luzonensis.

[Read more about the newfound ancient human relative]

Work crew

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

Digs in 2007, 2011 and 2015 recovered bones and teeth from Homo luzonensis dating to between 67,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Work station

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

The team discovered 13 bones and teeth in all, including toe and finger bones, teeth and a thigh bone. These bones came from at least three different individuals.

Ancient teeth

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

Some of the right upper teeth from one Homo luzonensis individual. From left to right: two premolars and three molars.

Foot bone

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

The proximal foot phalanx of Homo luzonensis. Notice the longitudinal curvature of the bone, which suggests that this species was adapted to climb trees.

Amazing find

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

The Homo luzonensis bones and teeth are the earliest known human remains from the Philippines. They're older than the first remains of Homo sapiens from the region, which date to about 30,000 to 40,000 years ago on Palawan island.

Majestic cave

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

The bones and teeth found in this cave have kept researchers busy. A comparative analysis between Homo luzonensis and other human relatives showed that the newfound species had very primitive elements that look like Australopithecus. But Homo luzonensis also has features that look modern, much like Homo sapiens.

Deep dive

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

Homo luzonensis was alive at the same time as other human relatives, including Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo floresiensis.

Luzon island

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

Luzon is a large island. It has never been connected to another landform throughout the Quaternary, a period lasting from 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago. In other words, early humans likely boated there.

Homo luzonensis

new hominin remains

(Image credit: Copyright Callao Cave Archaeology Project)

This discovery of Homo luzonensis is a "remarkable discovery," Matthew Tocheri, Canada Research Chair in Human Origins and an associate professor of anthropology at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, wrote in an accompanying perspective. But this discovery "will no doubt ignite plenty of scientific debate over the coming weeks, months and years," Tocheri wrote.

[Read more about the newfound ancient human relative]