160,000-year-old fossil may be the first Denisovan skull we’ve found

A partial skull from China represents the earliest human with a “modern” brain size. It could represent an unknown group of ancient humans, or perhaps one of the enigmatic Denisovans

Humans 26 January 2022

human fossils

Fragments of a large ancient human skull known as Xujiayao 6

Xiu-Jie Wu,Christopher J.Bae, Martin Friess, Song Xing, Sheela Athreya, Wu Liu

An ancient human that lived in China at least 160,000 years ago had an unusually large brain for the time – comparable to the brain size of people alive today. The find is more evidence that hominin evolution went in many different directions, rather than taking a straight line from small brains to large ones.

It is also possible that the skull belonged to a mysterious kind of hominin called a Denisovan. Very few Denisovan bones are known, so …

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