Homo luzonensis

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Homo luzonensis
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene,
0.067–0.05 Ma
CCH6a–e, molar and premolar teeth
Homo luzonensis metatarsal.jpg
CCH1, a 67,000 year old third metatarsal bone
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Hominini
Genus: Homo
H. luzonensis
Binomial name
Homo luzonensis
Détroit et al., 2019[1]

Homo luzonensis are an extinct pygmy archaic human from the Late Pleistocene of Luzon, the Philippines. Their remains are only known from Callao Cave in the northern part of the island dating to before 50,000 years ago. They were initially identified as belonging to modern humans in 2007, but in 2019, after the discovery of more specimens, they were placed into a new species based on the presence of a wide range of traits similar to modern humans as well as Australopithecus and early Homo.

Their ancestors, who may have been Asian H. erectus or some other even earlier Homo, would have needed to have made a great sea crossing to reach the island, and hominin presence on Luzon dates to at latest 771,000 to 631,000 years ago. The inhabitants of the cave dragged in mainly Philippine deer carcasses, and used tools for butchering.


Interior of Callao Cave, Luzon, the Philippines

The first remains were discovered in 2007 in Callao Cave in Northern Luzon, the Philippines. In 2010, they were identified as belonging to modern humans.[2] In 2019, after the discovery of 12 new specimens, French anthropologist Florent Détroit and Filipino archaeologist Armand Mijares and colleagues, based on the apparent presence of both modern-humanlike and primitive Australopithecus-like features, assigned the remains (and other hominin findings from the cave) to a new species, Homo luzonensis.[1]

The holotype, CCH6, comprises the upper right premolars and molars. The paratypes are: CCH1, a right third metatarsal bone of the foot; CCH2 and CCH5, two phalanges of the fingers; CCH3 and CCH4, two phalanges of the foot; CCH4, a left premolar; and CCH9, a right third molar. CCH7 represents a juvenile femoral shaft. These represent at least 3 individuals.[1]

The exact taxonomic placement of H. luzonensis is unknown, and, like for other tropical hominins, DNA extraction failed.[1] It is possible that—like what is hypothesised for H. floresiensis from Flores, Indonesia—H. luzonensis descended from an early H. erectus dispersal across Southeast Asia. It is also possible that these two insular archaic humans descend from an entirely different Homo species possibly earlier than H. erectus.[3] The bones were dated to before 50,000 years ago,[1] and there is evidence of hominin activity on the island as early as 771,000 – 631,000 years ago.[4]


Comparison of teeth (above) and foot phalanges (below) of A. afarensis (left), H. luzonensis (centre), and modern humans (right)

Like other endemic fauna on Luzon, as well as H. floresiensis, H. luzonensis may have shrunk in size due to insular dwarfism.[1][5] Much like H. floresiensis, H. luzonensis presents a number of characteristics more similar to Australopithecus and early Homo than to modern humans and more recent Homo.[1]

The teeth of H. luzonensis are small and mesiodistally (the length from the left to the right side of the tooth) shortened. The molars are smaller than those of the pygmy H. floresiensis. Like other recent Homo and modern humans, the molars decrease in size towards the back of the mouth, and the enamel-dentin juncture lacks well defined wavy crenulations. The enamel-dentine juncture is most similar to that of Asian H. erectus. The premolars are oddly large compared to the molars, with more similar proportions to Paranthropus than any other Homo, though H. luzonensis postcanine teeth differ greatly from those of Paranthropus in size and shape. H. luzonensis premolars share many characteristics with those of Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and early Homo.[1]

The finger bones are long, narrow, and curved, which is seen in Australopithecus, H. floresiensis, and sometimes modern humans. They are dorso-palmarly (vertically) compressed, and have well developed flexor sheath attachment, which are seen in Australopithecus and the early H. habilis. Unique to H. luzonensis, the dorsal beak near the knuckle was strongly developed and angled towards the wrist rather than the finger. The foot bones are morphologically unique among Homo, and are more or less indistinguishable from those of A. africanus and A. afarensis. Australopithecus limbs are generally interpreted as being adaptations for bipedalism and suspensory behaviour, but the fragmentary record of H. luzonensis limits extrapolation of locomotory behaviour.[1]


The ancestors of H. luzonensis crossed the Huxley Line into the Philippines

Because Luzon has always been an island in the Quaternary, the ancestors of H. luzonensis would have had to have made a substantial sea crossing to cross the Huxley Line.[1]

About 90% of the bone fragments from Callao Cave belong to the Philippine deer, which suggests that deer carcasses were periodically brought into the cave. With the exception of Palawan (where there were tigers), there is no evidence of large carnivores ever inhabiting the Philippines during the Pleistocene, which attributes these remains to human activity. The Philippine warty pig and an extinct bovid were also present. There were cut marks on a deer tibia, and a lack of tools in the cave could either have resulted from the use of organic material for tools rather than stone, or the processing of meat away from the cave.[6]

A much earlier site in the Cagayan Valley of northern Luzon has yielded an almost complete rhino skeleton (the extinct Rhinoceros philippinensis) which had been butchered dating to 771–631,000 years ago. The site also bears 6 lithic cores, 49 lithic flakes, and 2 hammerstones, which are similar to the chert industry from the Lower Paleolithic Arubo 1 site in central Luzon. Also present were the remains of the elephant Stegodon, the Philippine deer, freshwater turtles, and monitor lizards.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Détroit, F.; Mijares, A. S.; Corny, J.; Daver, G.; Zanolli, C.; Dizon, E.; Robles, E.; Grün, R. & Piper, P. J. (2019). "A new species of Homo from the Late Pleistocene of the Philippines". Nature. 568 (7751): 181–186. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1067-9. PMID 30971845.
  2. ^ Mijares, A. S.; Détroit, F.; Piper, P.; Grün, R.; Bellwood, P.; Aubert, M.; Champion, G.; Cuevas, N.; De Leon, A.; Dizon, E. (2010). "New evidence for a 67,000-year-old human presence at Callao Cave, Luzon, Philippines". Journal of Human Evolution. 59 (1): 123–132. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.04.008. PMID 20569967.
  3. ^ Tocheri, M. W. (2019). "Previously unknown human species found in Asia raises questions about early hominin dispersals from Africa". Nature News. 568: 176–178. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-01019-7.
  4. ^ a b Ingicco, T.; van den Bergh, G. D.; Jago-on, C.; Bahain, J.-J.; Chacón, M. G.; Amano, N.; Forestier, H.; King, C.; Manalo, K.; Nomade, S.; Pereira, A.; Reyes, M. C.; Sémah, A.-M.; Shao, Q.; Voinchet, P.; Falguères, C.; Albers, P. C. H.; Lising, M.; Lyras, G.; Yurnaldi, D.; Rochette, P.; Bautista, A. & de Vos, J. (2018). "Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago". Nature. 557 (7704): 233–237. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0072-8. PMID 29720661.
  5. ^ Wade, L. (April 10, 2019). "New species of ancient human unearthed in the Philippines". Science. 364. doi:10.1126/science.aax6501.
  6. ^ Mijares, A. M.; Détroit, F.; Piper, P.; et al. (2010). "New evidence for a 67,000-year-old human presence at Callao Cave, Luzon, Philippines". Journal of Human Evolution. 59 (1): 123–132. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.04.008.

External links

  • Zimmer, Carl (April 10, 2019). "A New Human Species Once Lived in This Philippine Cave – Archaeologists in Luzon Island have turned up the bones of a distantly related species, Homo luzonensis, further expanding the human family tree". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  • Media related to Homo luzonensis at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Homo luzonensis at Wikispecies
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