Discovery of ‘Dragon Man’ Skull


    In News

    Recently, Researchers from China have claimed to have found an ancient human skull that could belong to an altogether new species of humans. 



    • The researchers have published their findings and said that the cranium (the portion that encloses the brain) could be over 146,000 years old. The skull was found in the Songhua river in north-east China’s Harbin city. 
    • The researchers have named the new species Homo longi. It has been nicknamed “Dragon Man” for the Dragon River region of northeast China where the skull was found.  
    • The skull was discovered in 1933 but only came to the attention recently after a labourer came across it at a construction site in China.  


    Key Findings

    • The Dragon man is at least 140,000 years old but no older than 309,000 years.   
    • It belonged to a mature male who had a huge brain, massive brow ridges, deep set eyes and a bulbous nose.  
    • The skull is huge compared with the average skulls belonging to other human species including our own. Its brain was comparable in size to those from our species.

    Evolutionary Tree of Modern  Human


    Time Period(about)



    Sahelanthropus tchadensis

    7-6 million years ago

    Chad in Africa

    Both ape-like and human-like features and was bipedalled, an ability that may have increased its chances of survival.


    Orrorin tugenensis

    6.2-5.8 million years

    Eastern Africa

    Approximately the size of a chimpanzee.


    Ardipithecus kadabba

    5.8-5.2 million years ago

    Eastern Africa

    Bipedalled, and are believed to have had a body size similar to that of modern chimpanzees

    Ardipithecus ramidus

    4.4 million years ago  

    Eastern Africa

    First reported in 1994. It is not clear if this species was bipedalled.

    Australopithecus anamensis

    4.2-3.8 million years ago



    Australopithecus afarensis

    3.85-2.95 million years ago


    Paleontologists have discovered remains from over 300 individuals belonging to this species over the years.

    Kenyanthropus platyops

    3.5 million years ago



    Australopithecus africanus

    3.3-2.1 million years ago

    Southern Africa

    A combination of human and ape-like features.

    Paranthropus aethiopicus l

    2.7-2.3 million years ago

    Eastern Africa

    Strongly protruding face, large teeth, and a powerful jaw.


    Australopithecus garhi

    2.5 million years ago

    Eastern Africa

    Long, powerful arms. The Smithsonian museum notes that the arms could mean the longer strides needed during bipedal walking.

    Paranthropus boisei

    2.3-1.2 million years ago

    Eastern Africa

    A skull that was specialised for heavy chewing.

    Paranthropus robustus

    1.8-1.2 million years ago

    Sothern Africa

    Wide, deep-dished faces.

    Australopithecus sediba

    1.9 million years ago

    Southern Africa.

    Facial features similar to the later specimens of Homo.


    Homo habilis

    2.4-1.4 million years ago

    Eastern and Southern Africa

    one of the earliest members of the genus Homo. Ape-like features

    Homo erectus

    1.89 million-110,000 years ago

    Northern, Eastern, and Southern Africa and Western and East Asia

    ‘Turkana Boy’ is the most complete fossil belonging to this species and is dated to be around 1.6 million years old

    Homo floresiensis

    around 100,000-50,000 years ago

    Indonesian island

    One of the most recently discovered early human species has been nicknamed the “Hobbit”.


    Homo heidelbergensis

    about 700,000-200,000 years ago

    Europe , some parts of Asia and Africa

    this was the first early human species to live in colder climes.

    Homo neanderthalensis

    400,000-40,000 years ago

    Europe and in southwestern and central Asia

    co-existed with Homo sapiens for a few thousand years

    Homo sapiens

    300,000 years ago

    World Wide


    “Dragaon Man” or Homo longi

    146,000 years old


    size of the skull, which has a considerable brain capacity, is comparable to that of modern humans and Neanderthals

    Nesher Ramla Homo

    140,000-120,000 years ago


    resembled pre-Neanderthal groups in Europe.

    Significance of Discovery 

    • Experts believe that new species might help to bridge the gaps between our ancient ancestors called Homo erectus and us as there is very little consensus in the scientific community about how different human species are related, and which species are our immediate ancestors.
    • It may help in explaining the question of interbreeding among different human species. For instance, it is believed that Neanderthals contributed nearly 1-4 per cent of DNA in non-African modern humans.
    • The Natural History Museum also notes that interbreeding with ancient humans allowed Homo sapiens to acquire genes that improved their chances of survival, and that some of these genes are present in modern humans even today.
      • For instance, some of the DNA inherited from Neanderthals is believed to be involved in boosting immunity.


    Source: IE