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  • Ryan Wittler

Two Previously Unknown Species of Humans Have Been Found

Xinjun Ni; Tel Aviv University

Last week, human fossils discovered in both China and Israel were proven to be ancestors of humans. The discoveries are significant because each has the potential to rewrite the history of how modern humans (Homo sapiens) evolved. In China, a 146,000-year-old human skull (pictured left), discovered in the city of Harbin in 1933, has undergone new analysis that suggests it’s a closer relative of Homo sapiens than Neanderthals. Why it’s a big deal: It’s a remarkable finding since most modern humans still have significant amounts of Neanderthal DNA due to interbreeding between our species. If you think of Neanderthals as our cousins, this new species could be a direct sibling. In Israel, skull fragments (pictured right), discovered in a sinkhole west of Jerusalem in 2011, uncovered another new species of human ancestor, named Nesher Ramla, that interbred and shared tool-making technologies with Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. Why it’s a big deal: It’s a significant finding because Nesher Ramla may solve a long-standing genetic mystery involving how some European Neanderthals had Homo sapien genes despite living about 45,000 years before modern humans arrived in the area. If Nesher Ramla interbred with both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals before modern humans made their way to Europe, that could explain how the Homo sapien genes ended up in those European Neanderthals.

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