The bone of an archaic human has been found and is challenging many scientific theories about human evolution. For starters, it has always been believed that only one species of human exists at a time. However, based on the 14,000-year-old archaic thigh bone, not only have there been many species of human throughout the course of history, but this new discovery shows that some species were alive at the same time.
Since 1989, when the archaic thigh bone was first discovered in Southwest China, scientists have been trying to sort out the history behind the archaic human to whom the bone belonged. What they discovered is that the mysterious thigh bone belonged to a late Pleistocene archaic hominid species who is a mixture of more than one species of human. This shocking reality was uncovered after researchers examined the femurs of the Homo erectus and Homo Habilis human species and compared them on the archaic thigh bone found in China. The research has recently been published in Journal Plos One and contains some even more intriguing information about the history of the human race. Recently, the study’s co-lead Professor Ji Xueping, explained the characteristics of the bones within each human species.
“Like the primitive species Homo habilis, the Maludong thigh bone is very small. The shaft is narrow, with the outer layer of the shaft very thin; the walls of the shaft are reinforced in areas of high strain; the femur neck is long; and the place of muscle attachment for the primary flexor muscle of the hip is very large and faces strongly backwards.”
The distinct difference between the archaic bone found in China’s Red Deer Cave and those belonging to other archaic human species is that the thigh bone is only somewhat human. It is, according to the researchers, a bone the more closely resembles a primate than a human. Prior to the discovery of the archaic human fossil, it was believed that archaic humans were extinct in China over 100,000 years ago. This proves that human species overlap and suggest the human ability to inter-breed, which according to science so far, is impossible. Study author, Dr. Curnoe made a statement on just how long this inter-breeding has been going on.
“It seems likely now that there was extensive overlap in time between archaic and modern humans for tens of thousands of years.”
The findings of the archaic thigh bone raise many questions in the scientific community. Mostly, people wonder if inter-breeding between species of archaic humans some how proves the theory of the human-primate relationship. In other words, if a modern human were to mate with a modern ape, could they have children? More skepticism arises on previous scientific belief that race does not exist. But how much can the idea of inter-breeding alter that belief?
The researchers are now continuing their study to uncover more details about the archaic thigh bone. This includes extracting DNA from it, according to the New York Times. Curnoe and his colleagues also plan to search for more archaic fossils in Red Deer Cave. The goal of science at this point is to prove that archaic humans are not as archaic as what is presently believed or that modern humans are less modern than believed.
So far, scientists hold that human DNA is impenetrable by any other animal in existence today. However, with the Curnoe study only days old, it likely that other scientists will begin to analyzed their previous theories for accuracy. An archaic human is an “old-fashioned” human by definition, but what will they be called now that scientists have figured out the some archaic homo sapiens may have survived the Ice Age?
[Feature Image by D. Curnoe and Ji Xueping]