We might see a 14,000-year-old thigh bone, discovered in southwestern territories of China, changing the evolutionary history of the modern humans. The said femur boasts significant resemblance with that of an ancient human species, which the scientists thought was extinct before the Late Pleistocene.
The comparison between the femur unearthed in China and that of ancient and modern humans was published in the popular journal PLOS ONE this Thursday. In the said paper, scientists have argued that the leg bone belongs to an ancient human that inhabited our planet not very long ago. If the claims made by the scientists turn out to be true, we might witness human history changing dramatically.
At present, Earth, his home to just a single human species i.e. Homo sapiens. However, things haven’t always been the same. There are times when ancient species of humans such as H erectus, H. habilis, Neanderthals and Denisovans, overlapped. There were also some species that intermingled with the Homo sapiens. For instance, some human beings living today carry certain Denisovan genes.
Scientists used to believe that our planet played host to more than one human species for the last time, at least, tens of thousands of years back. For example, Neanderthals, which happens to be one of the closest cousins of the modern humans, are believed to have disappeared around 40,000 years back.
Darren Curnoe, the author of the study, said that to date, scientists have believed that ancient humans who inhabited mainland Asia used to exist at least 100,000 years back, not after that. So, for them, finding a bone that is just 14,000 years old and boasts significant resemblance with that of a very ancient human species was pretty surprising.
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Curnoe, however, added that so far he and his colleagues have found just one bone and thus they need to show a bit of patience. He said that if it’s proved that the bone actually represents an ancient human species, it would mean that there was an overlap between ancient and modern human species in the southwestern territories of China for tens of thousands of years.
University of Toronto paleontologist David Begun, who was not a part of the study team, however, said that the revelations made by this new study aren’t convincing enough. According to him, the bone belongs to a Late Pleistocene, Early Holocene human species with slightly different appearance; he feels that the species didn’t have anything remarkably ancient about it.