A group of Chinese and Australian researchers recently published a controversial study asserting that a number of unusual-looking fossils unearthed in southern China belong to a previously unknown species of humans. The fossils, with their unusually thick brows and angled jaws, exhibit a mixture of primitive and modern features, making them anatomically unique.
The animal remains at the dig site suggest that these cave dwellers had a penchant for venison, prompting the scientists to call them the Red Deer Cave people. They lived as recently as 11,500 years ago, which means they lived alongside and may have interbred with our direct ancestors. They outlived Neanderthals, another distinct species of prehistoric humans, by quite a few thousand years.
Other scientists not directly involved with the study are not entirely convinced that the Red Deer Cave people are a different species. Some suggest they're related to another species of ancient humans, while others believe that they're actually modern humans who just happen to look different. To put the debate to a rest, the study's authors are working on extracting and analyzing DNA from the Red Deer People's fossil remains.
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