Discovery of ‘Dragon Man' Skull in China Prompts Rethink of Human Evolution

Researchers said Homo longi or "Dragon Man" could replace Neanderthals as our own species' closest relative

A portrait of "Dragon Man" in his habitat.
Chuang Zhao

A new species of ancient human dubbed Homo longi, or "Dragon Man," could potentially change the way we understand human evolution, scientists said Friday.

Researchers said in their findings, published Friday as three separate papers in the journal The Innovation, that Homo longi could replace Neanderthals as the closest relative to our own species, Homo sapiens. The discovery of the new species is connected to a skull known as the Harbin cranium, a fossil thought to have been discovered decades ago but only recently studied.

The Harbin cranium "also shows other features resembling our species,” Chris Stringer, one of the authors, said in a news release about the findings from London’s Natural History Museum, where he works as a research leader.

Although it has been described by the research team as a new species, in a separate interview with the U.K.’s Press Association, Stringer said he agreed that the skull bore a resemblance to another fossil belonging to Homo daliensis, another type of ancient human.

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