Humans were in Philippines thousands of years before previously thought

Photo via CNN.com

By Ashley Strickland/CNN – About 709,000 years ago, someone butchered a rhinoceros using stone tools on the Philippine island of Luzon. That may not seem remarkable — except that humans weren’t supposed to be in the Philippines so long ago.

Before this discovery, the earliest indicator that early humans, or hominins, were even on those islands had been a single foot bone from 67,000 years ago, uncovered in the Callao Cave on Luzon. That’s quite a time jump.

Research says that the new findings push back the date for humans inhabiting the Philippines by hundreds of thousands of years. A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature also says that this securely dated evidence pushes back the date for humans living in the wider South East Asian islands region.

Researchers came close to figuring out that Luzon may have been inhabited by early humans when stone tools and the fossils of large animals were discovered there in the 1950s. But they weren’t able to securely date those findings to the Middle Pleistocene, which spans 126,000 to 781,000 years ago.

But recent excavations in the Kalinga province of northern Luzon uncovered 57 stone tools and more than 400 bones of animals like monitor lizard, Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtles and stegodons, a now-extinct animal in the same family as elephants and mammoths.
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