Archaeologists have found a foot bone that could prove the Philippines was first settled by humans 67,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought, the National Museum said yesterday.
The bone, found in an extensive cave network, predates the 47,000-year-old Tabon Man that is previously known as the first human to have lived in the country, said Taj Vitales, a researcher with the museum’s archaeology section.
“This would make it the oldest human remains ever found in the Philippines,” Vitales told AFP.
A team of archaeologists from the University of the Philippines and the National Museum dug up the third metatarsal bone of the foot in 2007 in the Callao caves near Penablanca, about 335km north of Manila.
Their report on what is now known as Callao Man was released in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution after tests in France set the fossil’s age, said professor Armand Mijares, the expedition leader.
“This individual was small-bodied. It’s difficult to say whether he was male or female,” he said.
Cut marks on deer and wild boar bones found around it suggest this individual could have hunted and was skilled with tools.
“It broke the barriers,” Mijares said, explaining that previous evidence put the first human settlements in the Philippines and nearby islands around Tabon Man.
“It pushed that back to nearly 70,000 years.”
However Mijares said the finding of it being a Homo sapien was still only provisional because some of the bone’s features were similar to Homo habilis and Homo floresiensis — which are distinct species from a human.
Existing evidence suggests modern man, or Homo sapiens, first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago.(afp)
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