Which of our hominid ancestors forged stone weapons used to kill rhino in the Philippines 700,000 years ago?

human philippines IMG adapt
Researchers found a 700,000-year-old site on the Philippine island of Luzon where unknown hominins butchered a rhinoceros. To avoid damaging the bones, the team dug them up with only bamboo sticks. Image credit: Thomas Ingicco

Stone tools found in the Philippines predate the arrival of modern humans to the islands by roughly 600,000 years—but researchers aren’t sure who made them.

The eye-popping artifacts, unveiled on [May 2] in Nature, were abandoned on a river floodplain on the island of Luzon beside the butchered carcass of a rhinoceros. The ancient toolmakers were clearly angling for a meal. Two of the rhino’s limb bones are smashed in, as if someone was trying to harvest and eat the marrow inside. Cut marks left behind by stone blades crisscross the rhino’s ribs and ankle, a clear sign that someone used tools to strip the carcass of meat.

The next-earliest evidence of Philippine hominins comes from Luzon’s Callao Cave, in the form of a 67,000-year-old foot bone.

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While the researchers don’t know which archaic cousin of ours butchered the rhino, the find will likely cause a stir among people studying the human story in the South Pacific—especially those wondering how early hominins got to the Philippines in the first place.

The list of possible toolmakers includes the Denisovans, a ghost lineage of hominins known from DNA and a handful of Siberian fossils. The leading candidate, though, is the early hominin Homo erectus, since it definitely made its way into southeast Asia.

Read full, original post: 700,000-Year-Old Stone Tools Point to Mysterious Human Relative

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