POSSIBLE NEW DISCOVERY OF EARLY SPECIES OF HUMANOID

NATIONAL PICTURES

Embargoed until 15:00 GMT 14/03/12

Four mystery cavemen dug up in China could be a new species of humanoid, scientists say.

The fossils, found in two caves, belong to a previously unknown Stone Age people and have a ‘highly unusual’ mixture of ancient and modern features.

Named the ‘Red Deer people’ because of the animals they hunted and dating from between 14,500 to 11,500 years ago, they are the youngest humanoid fossils to be found in Asia.

It had previously been thought that early humans had the run of the continent with little evidence of any of our evolutionary ancestors.

But the ‘Red Deer’ discovery has “startling implications for the early peopling of Asia”, said Professor Curnoe, of the University of New South Wales.

They would have shared the land with modern looking humans at a time when China’s earliest farming culture was beginning, he said.

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