The picture of human origins may have gotten more complicated. Excerpt:
Analysis of trace elements in Penghu 1 suggests the hominin probably lived between 10,000 and 190,000 years ago. The jaw and its teeth look unexpectedly primitive for this age, the researchers said. During the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago, humans generally evolved smaller jaws and teeth, but the new fossil from Taiwan appears larger and more robust than older Homo erectus fossils from Java and northern China.
The researchers said Penghu 1 does resemble a 400,000-year-old fossil from Hexian, in southern China, located about 590 miles (950 km) north of the Penghu Channel. The scientists suggest these fossils together represent a distinct group of archaic humans, although they caution that they do not yet have enough evidence to say whether it is a new species or not.
“We need other skeletal parts to evaluate the degree of its uniqueness,”study co-author Yousuke Kaifu, a paleoanthropologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, told Live Science. “The question of species can be effectively discussed after those steps.”
Or, maybe not. But that’s how science works; or, at least, how it’s supposed to work. “Not enough evidence” means “not enough evidence.” Paleontology is frequently like assembling a massive puzzle from pieces found many miles apart over a period spanning decades; but every find does make the picture just a tiny bit more interesting, if not necessarily clearer. But it’s also important to note that, just because this fossil is inconclusive, many others are not; the Neandertal, for example, are represented by hundreds of separate sets of remains.
And, it seems, Congressmen may have been around even longer.