WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- This latest discovery in the Philippine island of Luzon may point to the existence of a human relative arriving on the island 700,000 years ago, which is long before the original estimate of scientists.
- Researchers have found 57 stone tools in Luzon during annual excavations since 2014.
- According to a study published on Wednesday by lead archaeologist Thomas Ingicco of France’s National Museum of Natural History, the tools are estimated to be 631,000 to 777,000 years old.
Prior to this discovery, the earliest evidence of human activity and life on the Philippine islands was a bone of a human foot unearthed at the Philippine Callao caves, which dated only 67,000 years ago – a considerable time jump. Researchers discovered other fauna remains and man-made stone tools in the area during the 1950s, but the artifacts have not been precisely dated.
The study states that “This evidence pushes back the proven period of colonization of the Philippines by hundreds of thousands of years, and furthermore suggests that early overseas dispersal in island Southeast Asia by premodern hominins took place several times during the Early and Middle Pleistocene stages.”
The date for when humans first began to live in the region is also accordingly pushed back.
The excavation revealed a 75 percent complete skeleton of a rhinoceros species that went extinct.
The marked-up bones showed signs of butchery, revealing that it was probably hunted and eaten by humans. Ingicco stated that 13 of the rhino bones showed cut marks.
“We found marks on the bones intended to break off the bones to get access to the marrow, and of course to break bones you have to get past the flesh,” Ingicco added. “Whether they killed the rhino or not, we do not know and we have no evidence to know now.”
Ingicco also said that although the humans in the Philippines at that time are a distant relative, they were “totally different” from present-day Homo sapiens. He explained that “Some species reached the island a long time ago and the result is a dwarf species that has evolved on this island.”
Some remains of Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtles, and monitor lizards have also been found during the excavation.
While no clear evidence has been found on how the humans got to the Philippines in the first place, Ingicco hypothesized that these early humans were “washed out off a coast after some tsunami or some similar event.”
Source: NBC News