Scientists may have discovered a new human species for the second time this week.
Anthropologists in France found a 45,000-year-old baby’s pelvic bone, which does not match Neanderthals or Homo sapiens.
The hip bone was found with the remains of 11 Neanderthals in the Grotte du Renne cave, later settled by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH), suggesting that the child co-existed with the now-extinct species.
The artifact was compared to two Neanderthal and 32 modern baby bones, and found to be different in shape from both species, but slightly closer to AM H.
“We propose that this is due to their belonging to an early modern human lineage whose morphology differs slightly from modern humans,” the team wrote in the study published in Nature.
The news comes as a separate study revealed that an ancient skull that belonged to a boy who lived 300,000 years ago in China may also belong to a new human species.
A 45,000-year-old pelvic bone found in France may belong to a previously unknown lineage of Homo sapiens that lived before modern humans walked the Earth.
The fossilized remains, which included a jawbone, skull, and leg bones, were discovered in Hualongdong, China, in 2019.
However, what puzzled the experts is that the individual’s facial features did not match the lineage that split to form Neanderthals, Denisovans, or us, leading them to suspect that we may be missing a branch of the human family tree.
And this is what the latest discovery has uncovered.
AMHs appeared in Western Europe about 42,000 years ago, 2,000 years before Neanderthals went extinct.
The Grotte du Renne cave is a site that was home to both species during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic eras, but has provided evidence that Neanderthals developed aspects of modern behavior before contact with modern humans.
Layers of soil within the cave provide a timeline of when Neanderthals lived in the cave and when AMHs took over the site, but a layer in between housed the small pelvic bone which suggests another lineage also resided in the structure. .
The bone belonged to a baby and was discovered in the Grotte du Renne cave, which Neanderthals first inhabited before our ancestors moved there.
The infant bone was found at the level of 11 Neanderthal remains.
This level is known as the Chatelperronian technocultural complex, which lasted 45,000 to 40,000 years ago and was followed by Mousterian industry.
The Chatelperronian was an era when stone tools and flint knives were said to have been a pivotal point in Neanderthal evolution, though some scholars believe the pieces were created by early humans.
The baby’s pelvic bone was found to have a completely different curvature than immature Neanderthal bones, but was slightly away from the AHM’s pelvic bone.
The team said the mysterious artifact was inside samples from modern humans.
“This overlap, therefore, could indicate a variability of iliac [the hip bone] shared curvature between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the study read.
The researchers proposed that the baby was likely a member of the AMH population that coexisted with the last Neanderthals during the transition.
‘AR-63 would attest to the presence of AMH in this area of Western Europe during the Chatelperronian period, the researchers wrote.
“The creators of the Châtelperronian could then be human groups where Neanderthals and AMH coexisted.”
If this hypothesis is validated, the team said that ‘Châtelperronian may have ‘resulted from cultural diffusion or acculturation processes with possible population mixing between the two groups’.
This means that Neanderthals learned from modern humans and used tool making to develop their technologies.