New Species of Human, Homo luzonensis, Identified in the Philippines
In 2007, archaeologist Armand Salvador Mijares found a curious bone buried in Callao Cave in the Philippine island of Luzon. Shortly after, he and his colleagues concluded it was a third metatarsal from an human that lived some 67,000 years ago. Together with other findings, it demonstrated that humans could cross the open ocean and reach isolated islands very early on in our history.
But whether that bone belonged to Homo sapiens or another species of our genus was a mystery. Mijares, of the University of the Philippines, and his colleagues have since discovered twelve additional bones and teeth from the same site. Their analysis has revealed that the remains are unlike any other hominin fossils known, and likely represent a distinct species of the Homo genus. The researchers named it Homo luzonensis, they report today (April 10) in Nature.
“It’s fantastic news. It’s not every day you get to name a new species within the human family tree,” remarks Michael Petraglia, a professor of human evolution and prehistory at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History who wasn’t involved in the study. “The work is very strong, very robust, and they have convinced me that we’re probably looking at a new species within our genus.”