Washington: Researchers have identified the first known prehistoric human from Taiwan which may represent an entirely new species that lived as recently as 10,000 years ago. The newly discovered big-toothed human, “Penghu 1,” might have co-existed and even interbred with our species.
The discovery supports the growing body of evidence that Homo sapiens was not the only species from our genus living in Europe and Asia between 200,000 and 10,000 years ago.
“The available evidence at least does not exclude the possibility that they survived until the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, and it is tempting to speculate about their possible contact,” co-author Yousuke Kaifu told ‘Discovery News’.
Dr. Kaifu is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Tokyo. Dr. Kaifu, lead author Chun-Hsiang Chang, and their team studied the remains of the new human — a jawbone with big teeth still in it, dredged up off the coast of Taiwan in Penghu channel.
Chang and his team said Penghu 1 could represent a new human species or a regional group of Homo erectus , also known as “Upright Man.” He and his colleagues believe that, due to its size, the jawbone came from an adult individual and possibly a senior, because its teeth are worn severely.
The jawbone’s size further reveals that Penghu 1 was not a dwarf, unlike tiny Homo floresiensis , which lived on the island of Flores, Indonesia, where other animals were also smaller than usual.
Penghu 1, instead, lived on what was then mainland Asia in an ecosystem that included many other animals.
While Penghu 1’s precise identity remains a mystery for now, researchers are sure that this big-toothed human was not a member of our species.