Ancient Rhino Radically Changes Philippines History

Human tools found near 700,000-year-old butchered animal, rewriting first arrival
By Janet Cromley,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2018 7:29 AM CDT
This May 3, 2017, photo, shows Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – An international team of researchers has discovered a 700,000-year-old butchered rhinoceros on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, forcing scientists to radically adjust current estimates about when humans first occupied the archipelago. Previously, a 67,000-year-old foot bone found in a cave in northern Luzon was the oldest evidence of human habitation in the area, reports the Guardian. The team also found 57 stone tools, as well as two possible hammer stones, near the animal, according to a Phys.org news release. Scientists aren’t certain who these early humans were, but they weren’t modern day Homo sapiens. The study, published in the science journal Nature, was co-authored by Dr. Gerrit van den Bergh, a palaeontologist at the University of Wollongong.

Van den Bergh tells the Australia Broadcasting Company that the humans at Luzon could be a distinct sub-species, but were probably Homo erectus. Homo erectus are believed to have migrated to China and southeast Asia as much as a million years ago. “The original story for human evolution was very basic, that maybe there was one single migration into places like southeast Asia,” Gilbert Price, paleontologist at the University of Queensland tells the Australia Broadcasting Company. “But it’s becoming so much more complicated now.” Price was not involved in the study. The find begs a tantalizing new question: How on earth did the early humans get to Luzon? Early humans presumably didn’t have boats to cross large bodies of water. Thomas Ingicco, lead author of the study, says they could have arrived accidentally during typhoons or tsunamis, per the Smithsonian. (New discoveries also are altering human history on Africa.)

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