MARCH 5, 2017 --In 2007, researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing were finishing up an archaeological dig in Lingjing, China, when a team member spotted some quartz tools poking out of the mud. After extending the dig, the tools were extracted, revealing an even more significant discovery: a small, ancient skull fragment approximately 100,000 to 130,000 years old.Over the next few years, the researchers returned to the site multiple times, finding more cranium pieces until they were able to reconstruct two partial skulls from more than 40 separate fragments.But when the team analyzed the skull fragments, they realized that the skulls neither fit the bill for Homo sapiens nor Neanderthals but that they shared characteristics of both human species. Ultimately, the researchers were unable to positively determine exactly what kind of human the skulls belong to, opening the door to a wide range of intriguing possibilities.In an article published Friday in the journal Science, the researchers note that the skull fragments date to the Late Pleistocene epoch, a time marked by the expansion of H. sapiens and the extinction of other species in the genus Homo. During the early part of that epoch, Neanderthals roamed Europe and western Asia while humans began to journey out of Africa. But fossil records of human species in Eastern Asia from that time period are thin, muddying the picture of that era for a substantial region of the planet.The skulls found in China were found to bear very close resemblances to those of Neanderthals, including a very similar inner ear bone and a prominent brow ridge. But the brow ridge was much less pronounced than one would expect from Neanderthals, with a considerably less dense cranium, as one might expect in an early H. sapiens. Researchers also found that the skulls were large by both modern and Neanderthal standards, with a whopping 1800 cubic centimeters of brain capacity.
Yes, but what are the odds of finding two of the biggest 100,000 year old Neanderthal-sapiens in one spot.
Skulls bigger than either species, typically.
One cranium has a huge brain volume of 1800 cubic centimeters--on the upper end for both Neandertals and moderns--plus a Neandertal-like hollow in a bone on the back of its skull.