Wed, Aug 04, 2010 - Page 17 News List

Bone find may change human history in Philippines 菲律賓發現蹠骨 恐改寫菲國人類史

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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)

菲律賓國家博物館昨天表示,考古學家發現的一塊人類足骨,足以證明六萬七千年前就有人在菲律賓生活,這比原先認為的還要早上數千年。

博物館考古部門研究員塔吉•維大雷斯說,該足骨是在山洞群的某個洞窟中被人發現,其年代比原先已知四萬七千年前最早住在菲律賓的塔布人還要早。

維大雷斯告訴法新社:「這個發現讓該人種成為菲律賓所發現最早的人種。」

菲律賓大學與國家博物館組成的一支考古隊,二00七年時在潘那布蘭卡(馬尼拉北方約三百三十五公里處)的卡魯洞穴中,挖出這第三蹠骨。

考古隊長阿曼德•米亞瑞斯教授表示,把化石送往法國鑑定年代後,現在稱之為「卡魯洞穴人」的報告,已公佈在最新一期的《人類演化雜誌》上。

他說:「這個人體型瘦小,很難判定是男性還是女性。」

在旁邊找到的鹿骨與野豬骨上有刻痕,代表這個人具有狩獵和使用工具的技能。

米亞瑞斯說:「這個發現打破了先前的界限」,之前的發現都認為最早定居在菲律賓與附近小島的是塔布人。

「這讓時間往前推到近七萬年前。」

然而米亞瑞斯表示,這項發現定義為智人只是暫時的,因為該足骨的部分特徵類似能人和弗洛瑞斯人等其他人種。

目前的證據顯示,現代人(或稱智人)首次出現大約是在二十萬年前的非洲。(法新社╱翻譯:吳岱璟)

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