Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology have recently announced an exciting new update to their research on a hominin human skull discovered at the Hualongdong Site in East China's Anhui Province - the 300,000-year-old skull carries many facial features of modern humans.
The skull, labeled by researchers as Hualongdong No.6, carries some facial features of the Homo erectus of the middle Pleistocene age. The skull, whose appearance has been restored by researchers, was surprisingly found to lack some of the facial characteristics that are commonly seen in middle Homo erectus and ancient hominids such as wide nasal bones, low upper face and obvious protruding jaws.
Instead, researchers found the skull carries some other facial features that are akin to the early modern human beings and modern human beings such as a shallow supraorbital sulcus and deep brow area. Additionally, its rather flat facial structure is believed to be closer to the look of modern East Asians.
It also has a very forward incisive foramen, which is considered a typical characteristic of early modern humans.
Researchers reconstructed physical and virtual models of the HualongDong No.6 skull using manual measurements and CT scanning, as well as using sculptural restoration techniques to recreate its appearance, with the final product resulting in a rather young looking man.
"I've came across some materials about this latest finding, and couldn't agree more on believing this finding can show the tendency, and a time point, that since 300,000 years ago, there was a transition that East Asian man experienced evolving from ancient to modern man," Wang Xiong, a paleontologist, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Since its discovery in 2004, the Hualongdong Site has produced more than 30 ancient human fossils as of 2019, in addition to hundreds of stone tools and a large number of mammal fossils.
"It's not only human fossils; the site has also been discovered to contain different clues that can show ancient human behaviors. This is very valuable for researchers to carry on studying their living behaviors and their lives," Zhang, a researcher, told the Global Times on Sunday.