Someone Butchered a Rhino in the Philippines 700,000 Years Ago, But Who?

Yesterday, Nature published an alarming find of butchered rhinoceros remains from the Kalinga site in the Cagayan Valley on Luzon in the Philippines. The long bones were clearly smashed as if to have access to marrow. The cut marks over the ribs are also clear signs of processing the meat off the bones. These marks were not accidental.

What makes this so alarming is the bones are dated between 631,000 and 777,000 years old. The best accurate date is 709,000 years ago. 57 associated stone tools were also found from this site.

Researchers found a 700,000-year-old site on the Philippine island of Luzon where unknown hominins butchered a rhinoceros. To avoid damaging the bones, the team dug them up with only bamboo sticks. PHOTOGRAPH BY THOMAS INGICCO
Researchers found a 700,000-year-old site on the Philippine island of Luzon where unknown hominins butchered a rhinoceros. To avoid damaging the bones, the team dug them up with only bamboo sticks. PHOTOGRAPH BY THOMAS INGICCO

Since the ’50’s, Kalinga has yielded animal remains and stone tools but the context wasn’t known until now. The other earlier archaeological evidence couldn’t be dated. So, the only other dated evidence of Philippine hominid occupation in Luzon is 67,000 years ago.

You know that in ’04 we found about H. floresiensis on Flores. In ’16 we found about 118,000 stone tools on Sulawesi. But we have around 600,000 years unaccounted for. It begs us to ask the question, just which species of humans were hunting rhino on what we know as the Philippines over 700,000 years ago?

Fig. 3 | Different types of marks at the surface of the bones.
Fig. 3 | Different types of marks at the surface of the bones.

Possible candidates are Denisovans and Homo erectus. We only know of Denisovans by traces in DNA and a  Siberian fossils. Personally, if I were a betting man, I’d place wagers on H. erectus, since it definitely made its way into southeast Asia and into Java around 700,000 years ago. Lead study author Thomas Ingicco, an archaeologist with France’s National Museum of Natural History, thinks the butchers may have been Luzon’s version of H. floresiensis, which may have descended from a population of H. erectus that ended up on Flores.

4 thoughts on “Someone Butchered a Rhino in the Philippines 700,000 Years Ago, But Who?

  1. 2.6 Ma water buffalo cut marks in India
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292209224_Intentional_cut_marks_on_bovid_from_the_Quranwala_zone_26_Ma_Siwalik_Frontal_Range_northwestern_India

    Photos & magnetic dating are clear – human-made cutmarks on water buffalo ancestor in NW India 2.6ma
    Revolutionary finds!

    My interpretation:
    Home habilis in coracles (inverted waterproof dome huts of wicker & broad leaves) used to cross or follow rivers or between isles. Two Narmada River India Homo (habilis?) fossils were pygmy sized, dated 300 & 80ka, as were Mata Menge Flores Homo fossils 700ka.

  2. This is fantastic news: Homo erectus-like people on the Philippines possibly more than 700 thousand years ago? If this is correct, it suggests that the traditional idea that human ancestors evolved directly from forests to open plains might be wrong.
    Instead, it seems to corroborate waterside theories of human evolution, google e.g. “Ape and Human Evolution 2018 Biology vs Anthropocentrism”.

  3. Who & how? H habilis in coracles(My guess)?
    H erectus on rafts?
    Endurance runners underwater marathon?
    H Flores swimming?

    2.6ma fossil water buffalo with clear cutmarks in NW India not too distant from Narmada River pygmoid (H habilits?) fossils est. dated 300ka.

  4. See John Hawks on land bridges, macaques & NOT Homo erectus.

    http://johnhawks.net/weblog/archaeology/lower/philippines/luzon-biogeography-heaney-2018.html

    (John Hawks apparently agrees with me re. H habilis, ** below inserted by me.)

    “More relevant today is that we now know that hominins occupied Flores, Sulawesi, and now Luzon, all prior to 100,000 years ago. Flores and Luzon were peopled during the early Middle Pleistocene.
    What’s more, the Flores hominins may represent a hominin group that ** diverged earlier than the last common ancestor of Homo erectus ** and archaic and modern humans. **This is not a question of Homo erectus dispersing to islands**, it may be a question of a branch of hominins that–except for H. floresiensis–is presently unknown.

    John Hawks, PLEASE CALL THEM ** H habilis **, THE rainforest hominin, with inverted ape bowl nest domi.ciles (dome shields lifted for entry/exit) which they inverted again to make waterproof coracles to cross and follow rivers and get to nearby islands, occasionally stranding on small isles to become isolates like H floresensis hobbits.

Comments are closed.

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: