Giant human jawbone baffles scientists

NewHistorian

Taiwanese fishermen have caught a large human jawbone that does not fit any of the known human species scientists have studied from the region so far. According to researchers who have had the chance to examine the remains, it is possible that it belonged to a hominin species that lived on mainland China between 200,000 and 10,000 years ago. More precise dating is difficult because of the scarcity of material. The bone is 20.7 mm wide on the side, compared to 14 mm for contemporary remains from Neanderthals.

Among the known ancestors of Homo sapiens who lived during the Pleistocene (2.5 million — 11,000 years ago) in that region were the Neanderthals and the Denisovans, as well as a race of smaller hominids known as the ‘Hobbit Human’, whose habitat was mostly in the territory of modern Indonesia. The jawbone, dubbed Penghu-1, after the channel in which it was discovered, is substantially larger than any remains from these three species. Still, scientists suppose that Penghu-1 may not have been an entirely separate species but a hitherto unidentified version of Homo erectus, the family to which all the other three belong. What’s particularly fascinating is that the Neanderthals and Denisovans developed narrower jaws and smaller teeth over time, but the jawbone found in China seems to have belonged to a creature that lived more recently than either of these species.

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