Ancient thigh bone deepens mystery of prehistoric humans


Artist's impression of the prehistoric human and the bones found in China.
Darren Curnoe, Ji Xueping & Peter Schouten

An ancient thighbone found in China adds to evidence that prehistoric humans existed on mainland Eurasia at the same time as modern humans, researchers say in a study published in PLOS ONE.

The existence of the so-called Red Deer People (so named because they appear to have eaten very little else, was first suggested three years ago following the analysis of skull bones from Maludong in Yunan Province.

Australian palaeo-anthropologist Darren Curnoe and his Chinese colleague, palaeontologist Ji Xueping said the Reed Deer People seem to have had a unique mix of primitive and modern features.

Now Curnoe has analysed a 14,000-year-old partial thighbone, found in Maludong in 1989, which Curnow says comes from a human with "primitive anatomy", despite its relative young age. He said it appeared to be the bone from an individual that would have lived about 1.5 million years ago.

"This is a thighbone that is very different to modern humans," he told the media.

You can read a review of a documentary about Curnoe's earlier work. See Enigma man: A stone-age Mystery.

  1. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0143332#sec006
  2. https://cosmosmagazine.com/life-sciences/review-enigma-man
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