Filipinos plan more diggings where new human species was found

A handout image made available by Florent Detroit and taken on August 9, 2011 shows a view of the excavation in the Callao Cave in the north of Luzon Island, in the Philippines, where an international multidisciplinary team discovered a new hominin species, Homo Luzonensis. (AFP PHOTO / Florent Detroit / Armand Salvadore Mijares)
Updated 12 April 2019

Filipinos plan more diggings where new human species was found

  • The new species is called Homo luzonensis after the main northern island of Luzon, where the remains were dug up starting in 2007
  • Aside from Callao Cave, human fossils have recently been found in another site in Bulacan province just north of the capital, Manila

MANILA, Philippines: Archaeologists who discovered fossil bones and teeth of a previously unknown human species that thrived more than 50,000 years ago in the northern Philippines said Thursday they plan more diggings and called for better protection of the popular limestone cave complex where the remains were unearthed.
Filipino archaeologist Armand Salvador Mijares said the discovery of the remains in Callao Cave in Cagayan province made the Philippines an important research ground on human evolution. The new species is called Homo luzonensis after the main northern island of Luzon, where the remains were dug up starting in 2007.
Beaming with pride, Mijares displayed the six fragments of bones from the feet, hands and thigh and seven teeth of three individuals from that bygone era in a news conference at the state-run University of the Philippines. Tests showed two of the fossil fragments had minimum ages of 50,000 years and 67,000 years, according to a study published by the scientific journal Nature.
“This puts the Philippines, our scientific community in the spotlight,” Mijares said. “Before, we’re just peripheral in this debate of human evolution.”
Mijares, who led a small team of foreign and local archaeologists behind the rare discovery, said he plans to resume the diggings next year and hopes to find larger fossil bones, artifacts and possibly stone tools used by people in those times. Aside from Callao Cave, human fossils have recently been found in another site in Bulacan province just north of the capital, Manila, Mijares said without elaborating.




A handout image made available by Florent Detroit and taken on March 15, 2019 compares the fossil teeth of the newly discovered species Homo Luzonesis and that of Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens unearthed during the excavation in the Callao Cave in the north of Luzon Island, in northern Philippines. (AP)


Another veteran Filipino archaeologist, Eusebio Dizon, said the human remains from Callao were the oldest to be found in the Philippines, predating those discovered in Tabon Cave on the western island of Palawan by thousands of years.
While the archaeological find could attract more scientists, Dizon worried that it could also draw vandals and treasure hunters who could threaten the seven-chamber cave complex, which is a popular tourism destination. An open-air chapel with pews and an altar in the cave complex has become a popular venue for weddings and filmmakers.
“Penablanca has been a treasure hunting haven of many people,” Dizon said, referring to the Cagayan provincial town where the Callao caves are located. “Maybe it will reignite their kind of activity so that’s why it needs protection now more than ever.”
The main exodus of modern man’s own species from Africa that all of today’s non-African people are descended from took place around 60,000 years ago.
Analysis of the bones from the Callao caves led the study authors to conclude they belonged to a previously unknown member of our “Homo” branch of the human family tree. One of the toe bones and the overall pattern of tooth shapes and sizes differ from what’s been seen before in the Homo family, the researchers said.
The fossil bones and teeth found about 3 meters (9.8 feet) below the ground in the cave show they belonged to small-bodied people. Bones of deer and related animals were found in the area, some with cut marks, suggesting they were butchered although there were no stone tools or sharp implements found in the immediate area where the human fossils were dug up, Mijares said.
Although the find contributes a new insight into modern man’s ancient beginnings, Dizon said it also raised new questions and deepened the mystery behind the evolution of man.


Japan warns of more rain, mudslide risk in typhoon-hit areas

Updated 19 min 28 sec ago

Japan warns of more rain, mudslide risk in typhoon-hit areas

  • Typhoon Hagibis earlier this month hit northern and central Japan
  • The agricultural damage was estimated to be as high as $700 million

TOKYO: The Japanese weather agency warned people in Tokyo and northern Nagano that heavy rainfall Tuesday may set off flooding and mudslides, including in areas recovering from a deadly typhoon.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said heavy rain was expected throughout the day, with waves and thunderstorms possible in Tokyo and the potential for flooding and mudslides in parts of Nagano Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, including Nagano city.
Authorities also cautioned that landslides and flooding were possible even in areas where official warnings hadn’t been issued.
Typhoon Hagibis earlier this month hit northern and central Japan. Nagano, Fukushima and Miyagi were especially hard hit. The government’s disaster management office said as of Monday 70 deaths were attributed to the typhoon and 12 people were missing.
The heavy rains from the typhoon caused rivers to overflow or damage dams in dozens of places.
Farm crops were also seriously damaged, including apples, cabbage and cucumbers. The agricultural damage was estimated to be as high as 70 billion yen ($700 million).
Miyagi prefecture, where as much as 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of rain was forecast, cautioned residents that typhoon-damaged areas could be vulnerable to rainfall amounts that normally would not be hazardous, prefecture officials said.