Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Anthrolpology in Leipzig, Germany, think they have identified a previously unknown “hominid” or type of ancient human which lived in Asia between 48 and 30 thousand years ago. The discovery of the so-called “X-woman” was made by analysing the DNA of a fosilised finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave, and published in Nature Journal.
Svante Paabo is a researcher at the Max Planck-Institute. He explained, “We have sequenced 30 mg of bone. What it showed was that there existed a human form 30 – 40 thousand years ago in Siberia – a new human form that we didn’t know about before – that is neither related to us nor to the Neanderthals.”
To find a common ancester of modern humans, Neanderthals and this new hominid, you would have to go back nearly a million years.
Lars Werdelin, the senior curator of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said: “I think one can make it fit with existing theories, if one accepts that the older species lived longer, and that’s not unreasonable. We know that in south-east Asia the older homo erectus lived about 30,000 years ago.”
This discovery has also re-drawn the distribution map of our early ancestors. Svante Paabo said, “It gives a more complete picture of what kind of humans existed before the last Ice Age and how they are related to us.”