What is bigfoot? That is one of the biggest questions surrounding the mythical creature. Everyone seems to have an opinion, ranging from an undiscovered great ape to an alien. But is it possible that they are a pre-modern human, that somehow managed to survive and stay hidden? Is there any evidence to support this idea?
In 1989, an archaeological excavation was underway in China’s Yunnan Province, at an ancient cave site bordering a lush, sprawling evergreen forest. To anthropologists, the cave bore certain promise, with the numerous bones that were scattered along its floor. Evidence of fires could be seen also, having been built there over the thousands of years that it served as shelter to ancient humans that came and went through it. These people hunted deer in the nearby forests, piling their bones by the fire pits they built; thus, the remnants of such ancient practices were borrowed in the name given to the site, Maludong, which literally means the “Red Deer Cave”.
Despite the window to an ancient way of life that the cave provided, the samples retrieved from it during the excavation in 1989 were put away in the archives of a museum in southeastern Yunnan, where they would remain, largely forgotten, until now. Recent tests show that the bones, like many similar finds, possess features that resemble our much earlier forbears in the region, particularly that of Homo erectus or Homo habilis. However, despite their likely descent from one of these groups, there are differences as well; the people represented by the bone samples retrieved from Red Deer Cave also suggests a different gait than that of modern humans, and perhaps most curious of all, the bones date back to a mere 14,000 years ago.
The bones, in other words, are relatively young, and this fact has lead researchers studying them in recent months to consider that they could actually have been their own unique species.
For an entirely unique human species to have existed as recently as 14,000 years ago is a tantalizing proposition, and for a number of reasons. Based on the revelation, some researchers have even given credence to the notion—however remote it seems—that there could have been other times where separate human species existed alongside modern humans. But perhaps the most burning question of all is whether that could still be the case, even in the present day.
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