Will the human species discovered in the Philippines bring insight to the past lives of the ancient inhabitants?
Researchers have unearthed important evidence of an ancient human species discovered in the Philippines. They called their precious find the “Homo luzonensis”, believed to inhabit the island of Luzon about 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. The human remains which consist of bones and teeth were dug out from inside the Callao Cave. This discovery has made Luzon the third Southeast Asian island in the past 15 years to show manifestations of unforeseen ancient human activity.
What the excavation revealed
The excavation in Callao Cave started in 2003 led by Armand Mijares. He discovered indications of human activity dating back to 25,000 years ago. During that time, he did not search any deeper for other artifacts that went beyond four feet below the surface. He said that most archaeologists from Southeast Asia will only dig cave sites up to two meters and will stop.
However, in 2004, that “shallow” digging became deeper when researchers unearthed Homo floresiensi. It is a midget hominin, commonly known as “hobbit” (from the movie “Lord of the Rings”). The said hominin lived in the Flores island in Indonesia until 50,000 years ago. This motivated Mijares to return to Callao Cave in 2007 to dig deeper.
Mijares is an archaeologist at UP Diliman and a National Geographic grantee at the same time. He and his team returned to the same site that they’d excavated in 2003. This time, they dug deeper. Over 5 feet of clay was excavated. They discovered a formed layer of rock called breccia along with other artifacts. The group was excited to find bone fragments that washed into the cave for thousands of years.
Small things with huge details
Initially, the bones appeared to only be from animals like pigs and deers. However, after a thorough examination, one piece caught their attention. That small piece looked like a complete foot bone resembling a human’s. It was sent to the co-author of the research, Philip Piper, who then examined the animal remains.
The team named the human species discovered in the Philippines in 2010 as Homo luzonensis, after being found specifically in the island of Luzon. The small-bodied hominin lived on the island about 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. It was recognized from a total of 7 teeth and 6 small bones. Luzon was proclaimed on April 10 as the third Southeast Asian island to deliver signs of remarkably ancient human activity.
Just like a jigsaw puzzle
The excavations unearthed 2 additional toe bones together with 7 teeth, 2 finger bones, and a part of a thigh bone or femur. The team found these remains during their return trips to Callao Cave in 2011 and 2015. All in all, the remains represented at least 3 humans discovered in the Philippines – 2 adults and 1 child. The fossils revealed fascinating hints to the looks and the way of living of Homo luzonensis.
Based on the size of the teeth of the human species discovered in the Philippines, the hominin stood less than 4 feet tall. The curved toe bones, on the other hand, looked like the anatomy of Australopithecus, which had lived 2 to 3 million years ago.
Researchers are still baffled at how these Homo luzonensis arrived on the island of Luzon since the land has never been linked to the mainland by a land bridge. They may have traversed the sea using some form of a raft. There’s also a strong possibility that they were washed up because of a natural disaster such as a tsunami.
Whatever the reasons were, it will remain a mystery on how this Homo luzonensis made it to the Philippines. At least now, the country has a hominid to call their own.
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