A giant skull dubbed “Dragon Man” for the “Dragon River,” in Harbin City, China has led to controversy among early human experts.
While some say the giant skull has a big brain and represents our sister species, others believe Dragon Man was an early Neanderthal. Notably, Neanderthals also had large brains and had sophisticated toolmaking abilities.
“This guy had a huge head,” said Prof. Chris Stringer, research leader at the Natural History Museum in London.
Surprisingly, the Dragon Man has a skull has been noted for its “Harbin cranium,” and lived at least 146,000 years ago. The cranium has a capacity of 1,420 milliliters, indicating a brain size like our own modern brains. Indeed, Dragon Man’s face resembles Homo sapiens, but with a combination of primitive and more modern features. (see videos below)
Importantly, the researchers say Dragon Man is the largest of known Homo skulls found so far, though there are mysterious stories of giant skeleton discoveries worldwide.
According to Haaretz:
“[Dragon Man]…had a ‘primitive’ beetling brow, a relatively flat head, low cheek bones, a wide mouth and large teeth, and a big nose. It is the largest of known Homo skulls found so far, the team adds. It also featured large square-shaped eye sockets, which is unusual, Stringer tells Haaretz. Ni elaborates: no similar degree has been observed in any other human fossils, he says.”
Possibly a Denisovan?
Therefore, Dragon Man was bigger, had a big brain, and previously unseen large eye sockets. Moreover, Dragan Man could be related to or actually be one of the mysterious Denisovans of Siberia, though more research is needed.
He may have been a male about 50 years old and “an impressive physical specimen” adapted to survive the cold. In height, he stood taller than average modern humans, Prof Xijun Ni suggested.
More from the BBC:
Another Ancient Human: Nesher Ramla Man
Days ago, researchers from Jerusalem revealed another ancient human found at an Israeli lime quarry in 2010. Dubbed the Nesher Ramla Man after the excavation site, the skull had a smaller cranium, no chin, and large teeth.
Researcher Israel Hershkovitz, lead author of studies into Nesher Ramla, believes the early human was not a unique species but also an ancestor to Neanderthals, like Dragon Man. Possibly, the Dragon Man is a variant of the Nesher Ramla Man, he suggests, despite the differences such as brain size and overall size.
Is Dragon Man a New Species, Homo Longi?
On the other hand, international researchers from China, Australia, and the UK have published three papers that suggest Dragon Man, Homo longi, is a distinct human species. The scientific name comes from the province of Heilongjiang, which translates to Dragon River.
Using phylogenetic analysis to study evolutionary relationships, they suggest the massive skull “may represent a previously unknown sister lineage to Homo sapiens,” as Haaretz reports.
“To be precise, Dragon Man belongs to the sister lineage of sapiens,” said Xijun Ni. “This lineage includes Homo longi, Homo daliensis and some other European and African species/ populations.”
Furthermore, the researchers believe Dragon Man throws back the time when Neanderthals split from Homo sapiens. Instead of happening 700,000 years ago, they believe it may have been 948,700 years ago. As most archaeologists and anthropologists agree, a common ancestor likely came from Africa.
Giant Humans Meeting and Breeding with Our Ancestors?
In the study of the Nesher Ramla fossils, researchers believed they indicated the early human possibly interbred with our ancestors. Similarly, researchers think Dragon Man may have met early modern humans.
In the Middle East, three continents come together, and it’s believed groups of early humans met, mated, and even shared toolmaking skills. At Nesher Ramla, archaeologists found advanced stone tools, and researchers suggested Nesher Ramla Man passed on the skills to other early humans.
Why are Some Downplaying the Giant Size?
As news came in about Dragon Man, it was very interesting to note how various publications reported. For example, The Guardian pointed out Dragon Man’s skull was “massive,” and “forced scientists to rethink evolution.”
“The skull, which is 23cm long and more than 15cm wide, is substantially larger than a modern human’s and has ample room, at 1,420ml, for a modern human brain,” the outlet reported.
After being hidden in a Chinese well for 90 years, the skull was out of reach of the mainstream.
“The skull appears to have a remarkable backstory. According to the researchers, it was originally found in 1933 by Chinese labourers building a bridge over the Songhua River in Harbin, in China’s northernmost province, Heilongjiang, during the Japanese occupation. To keep the skull from falling into Japanese hands it was wrapped and hidden in an abandoned well, resurfacing only in 2018 after the man who hid it told his grandson about it shortly before he died,” reported The Guardian.
Prof. Stringer said the skull was incredibly important.
“I think this is one of the most important finds of the past 50 years,” said Stringer, who worked on the project. “It’s a wonderfully preserved fossil.”
Dragon Man: Big Ancient News
Now, look at Smithsonian’s coverage of Dragon Man. Nowhere in the title does the article suggest this man was larger or taller, but instead points out he might be one of our closest relatives.
Far down in the text, a sentence states, “Observing the skull’s unusual size was a far simpler matter; it’s the largest of all known Homo skulls. The big cranium was able to house a brain similar in size to our own. But other features are more archaic.”
For decades, the Smithsonian, an extension of the US government, has been accused of covering up evidence of giant skeletons. Of course, Smithsonian denies such accusations, and mainstream media has come to their defense, calling it a “hoax.”
Similarly, ancient skulls with elongated craniums found worldwide remain an ongoing controversy. For example, the Paracas skulls seem to indicate that people with European heritage somehow made it to Peru in the ancient past. For others, the pointy skulls represent the Nephilim of biblical texts or even human/alien hybrids.
Thus, it’s not surprising that Smithsonian would seemingly downplay one of Dragon Man’s most unique features; he’s massive. In response, I’ll title my article to reflect some of the obvious attributes that make Dragon Man so compelling.
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