Scientists Believe ‘Dragon Man’ Skull Could Be Another Branch of Humans

A stunning discovery of an ancient skull hidden for decades has set scientists abuzz.

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Image via Screenshot Sam Haselby Twitter post

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.

“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct,” Professor Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum told BBC News. National Geographic reported that the skull has ignited debate among scientists about whether it in fact belongs to a new species in the human evolutionary tree.

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.

A BBC report contained an artist’s rendering of what Dragon Man may have looked like in life: