Wow: Evidence of Early Humans in Philippines 700,000 Years Ago

Hannah Ellis-Petersen at the Guardian: Butchered Rhino Suggests Humans Were in the Philippines 700,000 Years Ago.
The discovery of a butchered rhino has led scientists to conclude early humans were in the Philippines as far back as 700,000 years ago.

Dozens of human-made stone artefacts and tools, alongside the clearly bludgeoned and eaten remains of a rhino, were discovered in a clay bed on Luzon, the largest and most northerly island in the Philippines.

The excavation proves early humans colonised the Philippines hundreds of thousands of years earlier than previously believed, though it is thought these hominins, or 'Hobbits,' pre-date modern humans, known as homosapiens.

Previously, the earliest confirmed evidence of human presence on the island was a foot bone found in a cave on Luzon, which dates back just 67,000 years.

Aside from their appetite for rhino, very little is known about the humans who would have occupied Luzon, and the researchers are hoping to uncover more archeological clues as they continue to dig.

It is possible they were homo erectus, who are known to have wandered to present-day China and south-east Asia up to a million years ago or could be their own distinct sub-species.

Until recently, it was believed Luzon and the other islands of Wallacea in the Philippines would have been impossible for pre-modern humans to reach, as they would not have boats to cross the deep water.

However, the team of researchers, including paleontologist Dr Gerrit Van Den Bergh from the University of Wollongong, said this called for a rethink of how and where early homonins had travelled in south-east Asia.

"Our hypothesis is that the 'Hobbit' ancestors came from the north, rather than travelling eastward through Java and Bali," said Ven Den Bergh, whose work was published in the journal Nature.

"They may have been caught in a tsunami and carried out to sea. Those kinds of freak, random events are probably responsible for these movements of humans and animals. This region is tectonically active so tsunamis are common and there are big ones every hundred years or so."
Seven hundred thousand years. That's the sort of number that is unfathomable, at least in any meaningful way, for people whose entire lifespans are a tiny percentage of that time.

I just love this stuff.

And it grieves me mightily to read about it in a time where so many humans seem determined to put a period at the end of this sentence, when we haven't even begun to understand its beginning yet.

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