Discovery of Red Deer People: new species of early man?

Mysterious fossils found in southern China may belong to a separate branch of hominids.

Four human fossils discovered in southern China have waited over twenty years before scientists made great discovery. Three fossils were found in 1989 in a cave called Maludong Yunnan (the Red Deer Cave), near the town of Mengzi, and the fourth was discovered in 1979, close Longlin village, in neighboring Guangxi. By studying them closely, a team of paleoanthropologists from the Australian University of New South Wales and the Institute of Archaeology Chinese Yunnan has just made an amazing discovery. The fossils could belong to a human species never discovered before.

Scientists have tried to date the bones and found that they were relatively recent. According to the results of their study published in the journal PLoS ONE, the fossils date back to the stone age from 11500 to 14500 years ago. Meaning that they were present in this part of Asia at the end of the Ice Age and the beginnings of agriculture.
A curious mixture

By analyzing the skulls and teeth of fossils, the researchers found this species had a surprising mixture of archaic and modern features, as well as specific features never seen before. They have such a high forehead and wide, close to that of homo sapiens, but the prominent brow ridges and almost no chin, which is associated with much older homo. Their skull is relatively moderate in size, and their molars are particularly broad. Thus, although paleoanthropologists want to remain cautious, these “Red Deer People” may belong to a separate branch in the family of hominids.

The scientific team of Darren Curnoe and Ji Xueping makes two assumptions about them. Either it is “an unknown species that survived there until the end of the Ice Age”, or they are “the descendants of tribes unknown to modern humans who would have emigrated earlier from Africa and would not contribute genetically to the present populations.” For more information, researchers now hope to extract DNA from these mysterious fossil to find which are the closest known relatives of the species.