Fossil of human ancestor ‘Dragon Man’ is ‘one of the most important yet discovered’

Analysis suggests “separate branch of humanity” in fossil discovered years ago.
A fossil of a human skull at an archeological site.

New analysis of a fossilized skull discovered in the early 20th century—one nicknamed the “Dragon Man”—is making waves due to signs that the bones could suggest a “separate branch of humanity” heretofore unknown to evolutionary science.

The “Harbin cranium” provides “critical evidence for studying the diversification of the Homo genus and the origin of Homo sapiens,” according to a study published this week in the Innovation.

The skull was first found in northeast China in 1933; more recent analysis has only just revealed its apparent significance to the evolutionary lineage of humanity. 

"In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered," London Natural History Museum Prof. Christ Stringer told BBC News

"What you have here,” Stringer told the news service, “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."