A team of Chinese researchers claimed to have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a new species of human.
According to the team of researchers the skull is the closest evolutionary relative among the known species of ancient human such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.
As per a media report, nicknamed ‘Dragon Man’, the specimen represents a human group that lived in the East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.
The skull, which was found at Harbin in the north-east China in 1933, came to the notice of the scientists very recently, said the report.
An analysis of the skull has been published in the journal The Innovation, said the report.
“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” Prof Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum, a leading expert in human evolution, who was a member of the research team, told BBC News.
“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct,” BBC News quoted Prof Stringer as saying.
The discovery has the potential to rewrite the story of human evolution, according to the scientists.
According to the analysis, the specimen is more closely related to Homo sapiens than it is to Neanderthals.
“We found our long-lost sister lineage,” the report quoted Xijun Ni, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University in Shijiazhuang, as saying.
The skull is huge compared with the average skulls belonging to other human species.
The brain was comparable in size to those from our species.
The ‘Dragon Man’ had large, almost square eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth, and oversized teeth. Prof Qiang Ji, from Hebei GEO University, says it is one of the most complete early human skull fossils ever discovered, the researcher said.
“It has a mosaic combination of primitive and (more modern features), setting itself apart from all the other species of human,” the researcher further explained.