A new study found that ancient remains found in Callao Cave in the Philippines belonged to a previously unknown species closely related to humans titled Homo luzonensis, CNN reports. The bones and teeth belonged to one child and two adults from approximately 50,000 to 67,000 years ago.
This means that luzonensis likely lived contemporaneously to Homosapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo floresiensis. Luzonensis, like other ancient hominins, is more of a close relative rather than a direct ancestor.
A single foot bone was found in 2007 in the cave and was dated to 67,000 years ago. Further excavations in 2011 and 2015 uncovered 12 additional foot and hand bones in the same layer of earth in the cave.
The new species is called luzonensis after the island of Luzon where the fossils were found.
They mark the earliest remains of humans found in the Philippines, outdating the homosapiens remains found on Palawan island dated approximately 35,000 years ago.
The unique premolar teeth, the researchers write, are what makes luzonensis remarkably different from any other species of the Homo genus.
"The seven premolars and molars are smaller and more simplified than those of other species," CNN reports. And though some other traits are similar to those of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, the mouth features are distinct.
"If you take each feature one by one, you will also find it in one or several hominin species, but if you take the whole combination of features, no other species of the genus Homo is similar, thus indicating that they belong to a new species," said study author and National Museum of Natural History in Paris paleoanthropologist Florent Détroit.