A new species of ancient human dubbed Homo longi, or "Dragon Man," could potentially change the way we understand human evolution, scientists have said.
The findings come after a skull known as the Harbin cranium, found decades ago, was recently studied.
The "Dragon Man" may be replace Neanderthals as the closest relative to our own species, Homo sapiens.
Junyi Ge, a team member working on the study, said they were “quite confident” that the skull was more than 146,000 years old.
It could possibly change the we understand human evolution.
The exciting research was published on Friday as three separate papers in the journal The Innovation.
Talking to the Associate Press, Xijun Ni, a professor at Hebei GEO University, and author of two of the papers said: "It is widely believed that the Neanderthal belongs to an extinct lineage that is the closest relative of our own species.
"However, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified that includes Homo longi is the actual sister group of Homo sapiens."
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The newly studied "Dragon Man" skull is about 9 inches long and more than 6 inches wide, big enough to hold a brain similar in size to that of a modern human.
Scientists and researchers believe it belonged to a 50-year-old male.
According to the study, the ancient cranium is believed to have been discovered in 1933 when a bridge was built over the Songhua River in Harbin City.
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Its "long and confused history" is reportedly why the exact information on its discovery was lost.
Despite being named a new species in the study, one of the author's agreed that the skull had similarities to another fossil belonging to Homo daliensis, another type of ancient human species.
In an interview with the U.K Press Association, Chris Stringer added: "Regardless of that, the morphology of the fossil is very informative about later human evolution."
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These exciting findings were published just hours after scientists in Israel said they discovered a new kind of early human after studying pieces of fossilised bone found underneath a cement plant.
Nesher Ramla Homo — named after the place southeast of Tel Aviv where it was found — may have lived alongside our species, Homo sapiens, for more than 100,000 years, and may have even interbred, researchers said.
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