Researchers Say One Million-Year-Old Skull Discovered in China is Possibly A ‘Dragon Man’

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Jun 17, 2024

A rare and intriguing discovery has been made in China. The remains of a human-like skull have been analyzed, which confirmed it is part of a long-lost species. This has sparked a wave of excitement among researchers, who are now referring to the skull as a “Dragon Man.”

The shocking discovery, which is estimated to date back over one million years, to a period when Earth was inhabited by other species of humans. Some researchers have suggested the skull is the remains of a hybrid human.

Unusual Skull Discovered in Yunyang District

In early 2022, reports from China mentioned an unusual skull unearthed in the Yunyang District of Hubei province.

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An up-close photograph of “The Yunxian Man.”

Source: Gary Todd/Flicker

According to the archaeologists working in the region, the skull’s features were unlike anything they’d ever seen. They called it “The Yunxian Man.” After careful analysis, researchers determined that the skull could be well over 900,000 years old.

Study Confirms Skulls is Long-Lost Relative Species

According to The Daily Mail, a 3-D study was conducted on the skull, and researchers determined that it was a hybrid species, meaning it was made up of one or more different species of humans.

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A photograph of several scientists working in their lab

Source: Freepik

The researchers carefully studied the features of the scan and determined that the Yunxian skull is part Homo sapiens, the race of all humans on Earth, and part Homo longi, a long-lost sister species.

The Dragon Man

The Homo-longi still roamed the Earth around 150,000 years ago. They had some features that resembled modern humans, including their brain size. However, they had unusually square eyes, large brow ridges, and a wide mouth.

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A depiction of a member of the Hono-longi species

Source: Wikimedia

After modern analyses were carried out on a separate skull discovered in China’s Songhua River in the 1930s, researchers concluded that the Homo-longi could be closer related to Homo-sapiens than the Neanderthals, per The Daily Mail.

Long-Lost Sister Lineage

While the testing done on the Yunxian Man proved the skull was only part Homo-longi, it did conclude the long-held idea that the species is our “long-lost sister lineage.”

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A photograph of the Dali Man Skull

Source: Wikimedia

“It is reasonable to conclude that Yunxian is morphologically and chronologically close to the last common ancestor of the lineages of H. sapiens and Dragon Man,” said the authors of the study on the research site BioRxiv.

Three Dragon Men Skulls

The skull, discovered in China’s Hubei province, is one of three with ties to the Homo-longi race, often referred to as “Dragon Man.” The name comes from the Long Jiang or Dragon River, where one of the skulls was discovered.

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A photograph of the extensive plains that surround the Long Jiang River

Source: Wikimedia

The skulls were all recovered over the past five decades. Yet they struggled to determine which species it belonged to. “It might seem like simple science to determine what bone fits to what species, but scientists have yet to agree just how many human-like species there were in our recent archeological history,” said archaeologist Anna Goldfield.

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Trying to Understand the Homo-Longi

For a long time, researchers and scientists considered Neanderthals and Denisovans the two oldest hominid groups, both of which roamed the Earth as far back as 300,000 years ago.

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A photograph of scientists conducting research

Source: Freepik

Due to its physical features, including its elongated skull, researchers initially believed the Yunxian man skull belonged to the Denisovan species that originated in Asia around 500,000 years ago.

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Further Research Clarifies Origin of Yunxian Man

Further research on the Yunxian man led researchers to suggest that it could also have descended from the Homo-longi species, which lived on Earth during the same time as the Denosovians.

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A photograph of a man and a woman working in a lab

Source: Wikimedia

After analyzing all of the data they collected, researchers concluded that the Yunxian man was both part Homo-longi and part Homo sapiens, meaning it was an offspring of both.

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Descended of Denisovans and Homo Sapiens

The Yunxian man had the features associated with Homo-longi, including blocky eye sockets and an enormous mouth and molars. However, his brain size was very similar to that of modern humans.

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A photograph of a an adult Homo-sapiens skull

Source: Wikimedia

“The reconstructed Yunxian 2 suggests that it is an early member of the Asian ‘Dragon Man’ lineage, which probably includes the Denisovans, and is the sister group of the Homo sapiens lineage,” the authors wrote.

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An Ancestor of the Two Lineages

According to the authors of the study conducted on the Yunxian man’s skull, there was sufficient evidence to suggest it was a common ancestor of the two lineages.

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Neanderthal painting drawn by artist Charles R. Knight in 1920

Source: Wikimedia

“Both the H. sapiens and Dragon Man lineages had deep roots extending beyond the Middle Pleistocene, and the basal position of the Yunxian fossil cranium suggests it represents a population lying close to the last common ancestor of the two lineages,” said the authors.

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More Research to Be Conducted in the Future

While the paper has yet to be reviewed by other researchers, its lead author, paleoanthropologist Xijun Ni, had conducted previous research on Homo-longi and had been published in prestigious journals such as The Innovation.

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A female researcher is pictured working at her desk

Source: Wikimedia

Ni hopes that further research on the skulls and the regions in which they were found will shed light on this ancient species of humanoid.

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Better Understanding of Denisovans

Researchers have begun postulating the idea that Homo-longi could be related to the Denisovans, one branch of the homo genus that scientists currently know very little about. This is because only 11 partial fossils have ever been discovered.

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A photograph of the cave which produced several fossils of Denisovans

Source: Wikimedia

If scientists can confirm in the future that Homo-longi are, in fact, descendants of the Denisovans, it could help researchers better understand the history of this species and the evolution of humanity.

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