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One million year old skull believed to belong to ancient ‘Dragon Man’

One million year old skull believed to belong to ancient ‘Dragon Man’

This ancient human's remains had long left scientists puzzled

A mysterious one-million-year-old 'dragon man' skull has been unearthed in China.

The question of 'where do we come from' is something that archaeologists and anthropologists have long tried to crack by digging up ancient graves in order to uncover the origins of mankind.

Archaeological discoveries have allowed scientists to piece together a glimpse into the evolution of man, from primates to neanderthals and eventually Homo Sapiens.

However, the discoveries have also left us with multiple questions, as the remains long-lost sub-groups of ancient humans have also been discovered.

So who are our long dead genetic cousins?

One of the groups that has left scientists stumped is 'dragon men' - an elusive ancient race which has been discovered in what is now part of China.

Unfortunately, the species' name doesn't come from a connection to the mythical winged creatures, with the word 'longi' deriving from the geographic name Longjiang (which translates to 'Dragon River').

Back in 1989 and 1990, a pair of skulls were uncovered in the Yunyang District of Hubei Province, China, with the appearance of remains, leaving archaeologists baffled due to their unusual size and shape.

A third, similar skull has since been unearthed in 2022, named the 'Yunxian Man'; however, experts were confused by the skull's shape.

A recent study has since shed further light into the skull's origin, with researchers able to digitally reconstruct the remains using 3D software.

The work has allowed researchers to uncover more information on a long-lost species of prehistoric humans - commonly known as 'dragon' people.

The skull of a Homo Longi (Chuang Zhao/handout/PA)
The skull of a Homo Longi (Chuang Zhao/handout/PA)

Researchers believe the skull belongs to a 900,000 man named that is part Homo Sapien and part Homo Longi (also known as 'dragon man').

As a common ancestor of both the Homo Longi and the ancestors of modern humans, the skull could potentially provide a link between the two species.

"The reconstructed Yunxian 2 suggests that it is an early member of the Asian ‘Dragon Man’ lineage, which probably includes the Denisovans, and is the sister group of the Homo sapiens lineage," one of the researchers writes in the paper, adding that the skull "represents a population lying close to the last common ancestor of the two lineages."

A reconstructed image of the 'dragon man'. (Chuang Zhao/handout/PA)
A reconstructed image of the 'dragon man'. (Chuang Zhao/handout/PA)

They added: "It is reasonable to conclude that Yunxian is morphologically and chronologically close to the last common ancestor of the lineages of H. sapiens and Dragon Man."

The research has also provided us with further insight into what the enigmatic 'dragon men' looked like too.

Similar to other prehistoric humans, the Homo Longi are characterised by their low, long skulls, prominent brow ridges, large mouths and wide eye sockets.

The discovery has also allowed experts to make the connection between Homo Longi and Denisovans, with the two groups now believed to be related.

Featured Image Credit: (Chuang Zhao/handout/PA)

Topics: History, World News