SOME 146,000 years ago, just as Homo sapiens, the modern human, was roaming across Africa, Europe, and Asia, a similar-looking individual walked through forested floodplains of northeastern China. This could be the closest relative of the modern human found so far, say scientists who studied the well-preserved fossilized skull of the 50-year-old individual. The skull is named the Harbin cranium after the city where it was found, while the individual has been tentatively named Homo long or “Dragon Man” after the Long Jiang river in the region. While there is no consensus about the individual’s identity and its relation to the modern human, its arrival adds another layer to evolutionary history and throws up challenges to our understanding of how the modern human came to be.
The Harbin cranium was first found in 1933 by a construction worker, but he did not disclose its discovery. It is in 2018 after his death that his family donated the skull to the Hebei geo University. Since then, scientists led by Qiang Ji from the university, along with Xijuan Ni from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum, UK, have revealed astonishing details about the Dragon Man. The results were published in three separate research papers in the journal The Innovation on June 25, 2021.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
While the Centre trumpets its latest ban to eliminate single-use plastics, the fine print of the new rules tells otherwise
The government takes the usual market-regulatory steps every time there is a surge in prices of pulses—the primary source of protein for a majority of Indians. But shortfall in domestic production, the main reason behind the price rise, remains unaddressed. An analysis by VIVEK MISHRA, SHAGUN KAPIL, RAJU SAJWAN, ANIL ASHWANI SHARMA and BHAGIRATH
It is important to probe further when an effective system fails to rescue the malnourished children in a village
Long road home
Uttarakhand is increasingly declaring its villages disasterprone. While many are fighting relocation, those who shift face conflicts with host villages over resources like water and grazing land. Is relocation the right way to mitigate disasters that are striking the Himalayan state with increasing ferocity?
In quest of foragers
GORDON RAMSAY GOES TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO EXPLORE HIDDEN FOOD TREASURES, THEIR BOLD FLAVOURS AND THE ARDENT KEEPERS
More than 5,000 volunteers in villages of Odisha ensure that the lack of digital access does not hinder children's education amid the pandemic
Grotesque Profits In The Time Of COVID
Vaccine equity goes for a toss as US recommends booster shots, while Pfizer and Moderna revenues soar by billions of dollars
PANDEMIC OF STEROIDS
Steroids are essential in fighting infectious diseases. Used recklessly, they can cause life-threatening side effects like mucormycosis, as was witnessed in the aftermath of the pandemic’s second wave. COVID-19 is a new disease, and its treatments and dosages are constantly evolving. India will find it difficult to contain the disease unless the government can ensure timely dissemination and implementation of treatment protocols. A report by BANJOT KAUR
Establish farmer producer organisations to ensure that growers of the intensely flavourful golden Kandhamal turmeric do not turn away from it
OUT IN THE OPEN
Contrary to the government's claim of India being open defecation free, 15 per cent of Indians still go out to relieve themselves, says a WHO-UNICEF report
Dragon man fossil may replace Neanderthals as our closest relative
A near-perfectly preserved ancient human fossil known as the Harbin cranium sits in the Geoscience Museum in Hebei GEO University. The largest of known Homo skulls, scientists now say this skull represents a newly discovered human species named Homo longi or Dragon Man. Their findings, appearing in three papers published in the journal The Innovation, suggest that the Homo longi lineage may be our closest relatives and has the potential to reshape our understanding of human evolution.
China's Masses Warming To Snow
TWO YEARS AGO, CHINA opened the world’s largest indoor ski slope with two black runs, a blue run, snow play area and beginner slopes all served by chairlifts and magic carpets. Interestingly, it choose to build this behemoth in Harbin, where real snow piles high every winter and temperatures plunge low enough to host the annual International Ice and Snow Festival.