Researchers say they have found fossil bones and teeth of a previously unknown human species in the northern Philippines.

Scientists named the species Homo luzonensis after the island of Luzon, where the discovery was made. Researchers recently reported the finding in a study published in Nature.

A team from the Philippines, France and Australia found the first fossil bones in 2007 in Callao Cave, in Cagayan province.

Filipino archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares led the unearthing effort. He showed off the discovery at a news conference at the University of the Philippines, outside Manila. There were six pieces of bone - from the feet, hands and leg – belonging to at least three individuals. Seven teeth were also found.

The species is not believed to be a direct ancestor of modern-day humans, but rather a distant ancient relative. Researchers said tests showed that two of the fossil pieces were between 50,000 and 67,000 years old.

An examination of the bones led the researchers to decide they belonged to a previously unknown member of the Homo sapiens species. They reported that one of the toe bones and the shapes of the teeth differed from what has been seen in Homo sapiens before.

Florent Détroit is with France’s National Museum of Natural History in Paris. He co-led the study. He told the French press agency AFP, "From the beginning, we realized the unusual characteristics of these fossils.”

After much examination, Détroit said, the scientific team was able to confirm "that this was something special, unlike any previously described species…”

The discovery marked the second time in the 21st century that a new human species has been identified in Southeast Asia. In 2004, fossils of another group, called Homo floresiensis were found on the Indonesian island of Flores. That species –sometimes described as “hobbits” – was found about 3,000 kilometers from the Luzon discovery.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

fossil n. part of an animal or plant from thousands of years ago, preserved in rock

  • a dinosaur fossil

province n. division of a country that has its own government

  • the Canadian provinces

characteristic n. quality that makes something different from other things

  • What are some of the characteristics of this breed of dog?


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. Why is the new species called the Homo luzonensis?

2. Is the new species a direct ancestor of modern-day humans?

3. How old are the fossil pieces that were found?


Exercise 3


Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.

  • Discovering new species gives us a better insight into the evolution of the human race.


Exercise 4 


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think about this discovery?

2. Do you think that evolution is a good theory?

3. What do you think humans will look like 50 000 years from now?

4. Why do you think some species became extinct?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.