The Elements of Evolution (61-22-2) Red Deer Cave People

 Red Deer Cave People

14.5–11.5 thousand-year-old fossils found in caves in southwest China indicate a distinct hominin lived there until the end of the last ice age. These people were different than Denisovans and modern humans who lived contemporaneously in the same region.

Red Deer Cave skulls were anatomically unique from all modern humans, including those from Africa 150 TYA. Red Deer Cave people had a broad nose, flat face with prominent brow ridges, jutting jaw that lacked a chin, along with a rounded braincase in a thick skull. Their brain size was moderate.

The uniqueness of the Red Deer Cave people suggest that they lived largely in isolation from other human species.

The term Red Deer derives from these people’s apparent taste for venison, whose remains were also found in the same caves. The people roasted these large deer in their home.

The discovery of the Red Deer Cave people shows just how complicated and interesting human evolutionary history was in Asia right at the end of the ice age. We had multiple populations living in the area, probably representing different evolutionary lines: the Red Deer Cave people on the East Asian continent, Homo floresiensis, or the ‘Hobbit’, on the island of Flores in Indonesia, and modern humans widely dispersed from northeast Asia to Australia. This paints an amazing picture of diversity. ~ Australian evolutionary biologist Darren Curnoe