March 15th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

'Red Deer Cave' people, possibly a new human species?

Newly identified partial skeletons of "mysterious humans" excavated at two caves in southwest China display an unique mix of primitive and modern anatomical features, scientists say.

"Their skulls are anatomically unique. They look very different to all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago," said evolutionary biologist Darren Curnoe, the lead author of the study, from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

The fossils found at excavation sites in Longlin Cave, in Guangxi Province, and the Maludong Cave, in Yunnan Province, indicate that the stone-aged people had short, flat faces and lacked a modern chin. They had thick skull bones, a rounded brain case, prominent brow ridges and a moderate-size brain.

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