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Butchered rhino suggests humans were in the Philippines 700,000 years ago (Guardian)

5 May 2018


Excavation proves early humans colonised the area hundreds of thousands of years earlier than previously believed (Guardian)

“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 in 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 hominims, 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 in 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 homonims 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.”

The researchers unearthed tools including 49 sharp-edge flakes and two possible hammer stones, while 13 rhino bones showed signs of being hit with hammers and one was smashed entirely, possibly to get access to the edible marrow inside.

Also among the remains were skeletons of a monitor lizard, Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtles and stegodons, an early incarnation of the elephant. Whether they were also on the dinner plates of the early human occupants of Luzon is still unknown.”



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