The Red Deer Cave Man: New Human, or Just Different?

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March 15 2012 2:23 PM

The Red Deer Cave Man: New Human, or Just Different?

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(A new cave man was discovered in China this week)

Photo by AGUS SUPARTO/AFP/Getty Images

It may be that Fred and Wilma had more than just the Rubbles as neighbors. A previously unknown type of human may have been identified in southern China, who researchers say existed alongside modern man as recently as 11, 500 years ago.

The Red Deer Cave people’s bones, which suggest a very different appearance than modern man, were discovered in the Yunnan Province in 1989, but haven’t been studied until now. Some reviewing the findings even believe that these early people never really interbred with others and are unique among the members of the human evolutionary tree.

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The biggest problem in identifying the Red Deer Cave man as a new human is that there isn’t a satisfactory definition of just what a modern human is. Skeptics are already questioning the findings but the proof will be in the primordial pudding; researchers say some the world’s best DNA extraction labs are working to get some ancient evidence of the brand new man. 

Video produce by Paca Thomas

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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