Scientists in China have discovered a skull that they believe could have belonged to a yet-unknown species of ancient human that has now been named “Dragon Man.”
The skull was originally discovered in 1933 during construction of a bridge in Harbin City, in northeast China, but only recently came to the attention of scientists. It belonged to a member of a community that lived in northeast Asia. The skull was that of a male who died at last 146,000 years ago, scientists said. “Dragon Man” is the English translation of the Mandarin name given to the ancient human.
Yet the proposed grouping and species designation is stirring debate among scientists. Some experts see tantalizing hints that the Dragon Man may have ties to the mysterious Denisovans, a sister group of the Neanderthals for which scant fossil remains have been found—a few teeth, a fractured piece of skull, a pinky bone, and perhaps a broken jaw.
The skull was discovered by a worker who was part of the team constructing the bridge in Harbin. That worker hid the discovery for decades in a well. Before his death the worker alerted his grandchildren to his discovery. The family went to the well and found the skull in 2018, then turned it over to scientists.
Meet the "Dragon Man." This exquisitely preserved skull was hidden in an abandoned well for more than 80 years. Now some scientists think we are gazing into the eye sockets of a new human species.
— Dr. Maya Wei-Haas (@WeiPoints) June 25, 2021
A BBC report contained an artist’s rendering of what Dragon Man may have looked like in life:
Xijun Ni: "The results will spark a lot of debate and I am quite sure that a lot of people will disagree with us," he said. "But that is science and it is because we disagree that science progresses."https://t.co/Le3DMmtPyd
— Sam Haselby (@samhaselby) June 26, 2021