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‘Enigma Man’ May Be New Human Species

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on June 21st, 2014

This article is about a documentary called “Enigma Man” that is about the “Red Deer Cave People” whose remains were found in a remote cave in South-west China and may have existed alongside our ancestors as recently as 11,000 – 14,000 years ago.

enigma_man
Enigma Man: A figure based on the remains found in a remote cave in South West China.

‘Enigma Man’ may be new human species that lived until 11,000 years ago

Fresh light on China’s Red Deer Cave People raises big questions.

Has an Australian scientist been instrumental in helping discover a new species of human? And what does this mean for our understanding of human evolutionary history? These are two questions at the heart of a new documentary screening this week on ABC1.

With Enigma Man we follow the groundbreaking research of Aussie paleoanthropologist Darren Curnoe and his Chinese colleague, paleontologist Ji Xueping.

Their study of ancient human remains found in a remote cave in South-west China looks at the idea there may have been another species of human existing alongside our ancestors as recently as 11,000 – 14,000 years ago.

Dubbed the ‘‘Red Deer Cave people’’, these ancient people, or, more precisely, their remains – so similar, yet so physically different from us – are much, much younger than our Neanderthal relatives, posing some seriously interesting questions. Were they really another human species? And if so, what happened to them? Why did they die out? How did they live? And what were their interactions with our own early relatives?

These are indeed big questions, Curnoe says, and that’s what makes the search for answers so fascinating.

“The documentary is about the process of deciding: do we have a new species or not?” Curnoe, who is Associate Professor of evolutionary biology in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UNSW, explains.

“The fossils just don’t fit with the dominant view in science at the moment about who was around 11,000 years ago or 14,000 years ago, how they relate to us, and how we think of ourselves as humans in relation to nature.

“We tend to think of ourselves as special. So it raises some pretty deep and challenging questions.

“There are views, which I subscribe to, and quite a lot of other people do too, that there are at least 30 different species that are in the fossil record that would be relatives of ours in some sense – some may be ancestors, some may be side-branches that went extinct.

“The classic example is the Neanderthals – everyone has heard of them, even if you don’t know much about them. What we are proposing is that instead of the Neanderthals being the last of the other human-like creatures [before it was] just us, we are in fact saying, well, no, this other group survived until much more recently.”

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About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


15 Responses to “‘Enigma Man’ May Be New Human Species”

  1. DWA responds:

    What I really find laughable about scientists is that they go all cuckoo over “new” finds that have been lying around waiting for them FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS!

    Just what, precisely, is the incredible amazing thing about multiple different species of human inhabiting the planet at the same time?

    Answer (as it always is): nothing. That gaga outcry you hear is just another silo full of totally unwarranted assumptions going down the drain of scientific history.

    Most of what scientists “know”…they ASSUME.

    And we all know what they say about that.

  2. sjjf responds:

    Seriously, most of what scientists know they assume? You really think that’s a reasonable statement to make? Step back a moment and think about what “sciensists know” about the world right now, and then maybe reconsider.

    Multiple human species being around until as recently as 14,000 years ago is pretty interesting, and given the state of our knowledge it’s not ridiculous to call it amazing. But what /is/ amazing is what finding a new human species that was around so recently can tell us about human evolution in general, which is something that’s apparently not as well understood as we thought. The fact that we’re discovering things that have the potential to significantly change our understanding of our own evolution is certainly incredible.

    Cryptozoology fans like you should really stop being so cynical about science. That kind of attitude makes you look fundamentally ignorant, and makes it even less likely that people who are devoting their life’s work to learning new things about the world will listen seriously when you want them to look at the things /you’re/ interested in.

  3. SirWilhelm responds:

    It wasn’t that long ago, when I was growing up, that Evolutionists presented the evolution of homo spaiens as a straight line between ape and us. The only thing they couldn’t find was the Missing Link, between man and ape. Now, this article claims there may have been as many as 30 other contemporary species with homo sapiens? And none of them are the Missing Link? How does evolutionary theory explain that? And if evolutionary theory can not explain that, then how is it scientific?

    There are ancient texts, contemporary with the Bible, that depict how mankind was genetically engineered by an alien race with advanced technology, including the space travel they obviously needed to get here. Maybe our scientists should take another look at those ancient texts, instead of dismissing them as myths, so they can learn something about how another science worked? And about our true history? Including where, and how, we learned civilization? It sounds like science fiction, but then, our modern world was science fiction, when I was growing up.

  4. DWA responds:

    You know your post proves my point.

    Right?

    Little hint: “Multiple human species being around until as recently as 14,000 years ago is pretty interesting, and given the state of our knowledge it’s not ridiculous to call it amazing. But what /is/ amazing is what finding a new human species that was around so recently can tell us about human evolution in general, which is something that’s apparently not as well understood as we thought.”

    Translation: we assumed we knew a hell of a lot more than we actually did. Which should surprise no one conversant with the evidence, which shows what no one viewing current primate diversity should have any reason to doubt: it’s ridiculous to call multiple human species – at any time in history – “amazing.” It simply is not. (See: some of us are paying attention.) What makes it not-ridiculous to you is what you always assumed. Until you had more evidence.

    (I am a fanboy of one thing and one only, the only reason I am here: Evidence. Which scientists have a long and embarrassing history of ignoring, by the gross.)

    It’s frequently said that our scientific competence is expanding a lot faster than our wisdom. Oh, count on that. The dinosaurs may wind up having been here hundreds of times longer than us. Who’s doing it to us? US.

    Scientists have a nasty habit of going for the scoop. This isn’t the newsroom. Patience, gang.

  5. DWA responds:

    OK. Another hint.

    Anyone here familiar with the future-archaeology joke? “This appears to have been a ritual collar for adolescent initiation ceremonies”…and the artist’s conception is of a young man with a toilet seat around his neck?

    I think this book did something else with the toilet …something that hits home, as well as the funny bone.

    A joke, yes, but like all good jokes, an admonition…about what we assume, based on the skimpiest of clues. Were there no precedents for that, how would it have been even thought of as possibly funny?

    The recent book All Yesterdays is another good quick read with a lot of cool speculative art – very clearly described as such – and a lot of pith. Its biggest caution is that much of paleontology – a field virtually entirely driven by assumptions – may in fact be wrong in what it’s assuming. And these guys are staunch members of the mainstream, not crypto cranks. They remind me more than a bit of me.

  6. DWA responds:

    Sir Wilhelm:

    There is no way in which the recent explosion of hominid finds puts a dent in the theory of evolution, which still has a big advantage over creationism: evidence supports it. It is the scientific explanation for what we see around us.

    There are two things in your post that are illustrative of points that both sjjf and I make, however:

    1. Re: sjjf’s point. Crypto frequently tries to make its bones using ideas that aren’t backed by any evidence a scientist would accept. That’s not helping crypto become accepted as a science. (Really, crypto, as a science, would be: zoology.)

    2. Re: my point. The “missing link” was a naïve idea born of science’s assumption that every new hominoid fossil find would be a step in the direct line of descent from ape to Homo sapiens. Further evidence has shown us that, well, finding that link/those links is gonna be considerably more complicated than that.

  7. SirWilhelm responds:

    @DWA

    re your point 2: You are still assuming there is such a thing as a “missing link”, because a “missing link” is necessary if evolutionary theory is correct. If there is no “missing link”, then homo sapiens did not evolve. You can not admit that “finding that link/those links” may be impossible, and that the more evidence, such as the many contemporary, different kinds of humans you find, without finding the “missing link”, the less likely it is that it will ever be found.

  8. DWA responds:

    SirWilhelm: but none of what you say says anything about evolution as a theory strongly supported by generations of gathered evidence.

    No “missing link” is necessary at all. Let’s say we found all the links. None missing now, right?

    There is no need to find anything, really. It is estimated that 95% of extinct primates left no evidence (that we have found). There is no assurance that we’ll ever find half of what we don’t have now. That doesn’t mean evolution has been rendered invalid. It goes without saying that of course I can “admit that “finding that link/those links” may be impossible (I just did), but a scientist’s failure to find a fossil that may not exist does not mean that

    (1) the animal didn’t or that

    (2) anything has been done to evolution as a valid theory.

  9. Goodfoot responds:

    DWA: I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. Roger McGuinn called it “scientific delirium madness”.

  10. Goodfoot responds:

    DWA: I personally find nearly as many problems with evolutionary theory as I do with creationism. There is a Third Way, but I don’t know what it is.

  11. SirWilhelm responds:

    You’re saying there’s no need to provide evidence of the evolution of man, because the theory of evolution is proven by the existing evidence, by “generations of gathered evidence”? That’s not scientific, if the scientific method allows for falsification, as it is supposed to, which is supposed to mean that no theory is set in stone. That only one contradictory observation, can falisfy it, as Galieo’s observations falsified the Earth centric theories that prevailed for centuries before him.

    To say you can’t find evidence, because the primates didn’t leave fossils, is ignoring, and/or dismissing, the possibility that there are no fossils because there was no evolution, because your prejudices only allow for evolution. On the other hand, those who allow that either evolution, or creationism, may be right, because the evidence is not all yet in, demonstrate they have truly open minds.

  12. DWA responds:

    SirWilhelm: whoa whoa whoa.

    We have fossils, many many many many of them, and living animals and plants as well, which provide much evidence for evolution as the mechanism by which life fills niches that support it. The process cannot be observed in action, which is why evolution is a theory and not a law. But nothing anyone has proposed fits what we do have nearly so well.

    There is plenty of evidence for the evolution of man. We need find nothing else to make evolution the theory of choice, for the above stated reasons. No theory is set in stone; this is why they, you know, are called theories. They are always susceptible to amendment by further evidence. Galileo’s observations merely exposed those before him as based on faulty premises.

    Just how much evidence do we have for your…um…theory…? Writings with nothing observable to back them up, sorry, don’t cut it. If we’re going offworld for our confirmation, the spaceships don’t exist yet, nobody’s called SETI back, and there’s really nothing science can do with it.

    “To say you can’t find evidence, because the primates didn’t leave fossils, is ignoring, and/or dismissing, the possibility that there are no fossils because there was no evolution, because your prejudices only allow for evolution.”

    Um, no. Evolution has so much evidence supporting it that I’m not just jumping to Ancient Astronauts when there is no way for anyone to confirm that using the means currently available. Fossils are damnably rare because fossilization is a damnably rare process (hint: you won’t leave one, no matter what you try to do to enhance your chances); even the many we’ve found don’t exactly equal a planet filled with life, which the ones we’ve found indicate it certainly was. It’s as certain as I’m typing this that the remains we have are but a small fragment of what there was.

    “On the other hand, those who allow that either evolution, or creationism, may be right, because the evidence is not all yet in, demonstrate they have truly open minds.”

    You’re talking to as open a mind as you will ever encounter. I just need to see your evidence.

  13. SirWilhelm responds:

    What it comes down to, is that you are so “open minded” that you will consider evidence that may never be found, as proof of evolution, while refusing to consider evidence of Ancient Aliens, that has been found, and presented, in ancient texts, that man was genetically engineered by said Aliens, as their creations, who they also taught civilization to. Those early men, were told to write down how they were created,, so they would know where they came from. On the other hand, the Aliens stated that one half of the hybrid, came from an existing homind, on Earth. Where did that homind come from? Did it evolve, here on Earth? The other half, came from DNA from one of the Aliens. Can we not genetically engineer new hybrids, today? Is not possible, although laws have already been passed to prevent it, to genetically engineer human beings, today?

    You see. There are both possibilities. That a primitive humanoid evolved from DNA that was planted on Earth by a collision, during the formation of the Solar System, between the home world of the aliens, which already harbored life, and a newly formed world, who’s orbit was in the vicinity of the asteroid belt. A large piece of the planet was torn away by the collision, broke up, and became the asteroid belt, while the rest of the planet was pushed into a new orbit, with it’s remaining moon, and became Earth. Although this story explains how life was seeded on Earth, it does not explain how life came to be on the alien world. So, the question of where, and how, life began, remains unresolved, unless the aliens know the answer?

    You’ll probably dismiss these stroies as myth, at worst, or science fiction, at best. Either way, you’ll be demonstrating a closed mind, rather than the open mind, you claim to have.

  14. SirWilhelm responds:

    @ Goodfoot. I agree, there must be a way to resolve the differences between Evolution and Creationism, but, I have not found the third way, either. It does seem that life forms change, at certain times, under certain conditions, but there are other times, when new life forms seem to spring from nothing. The lack of “missing links” for many life forms, not just for man, does not help the enigma. Perhaps, someday, some of them will be found in the fossil record, but, until at least one is found, that can be determined to be a “missing link”, to the satisfaction of enough on both sides, the controversy will continue.

  15. DWA responds:

    “What it comes down to, is that you are so “open minded” that you will consider evidence that may never be found, as proof of evolution, while refusing to consider evidence of Ancient Aliens, that has been found, and presented, in ancient texts, that man was genetically engineered by said Aliens, as their creations, who they also taught civilization to.”

    This is close-minded. You’re not reading what I wrote! The evidence we HAVE NOW is powerfully compelling EVIDENCE of evolution. NOT PROOF. Didn’t you read why I called it a theory? That something isn’t proven doesn’t mean that it isn’t by far the best explanation we have. No further evidence for evolution need be gathered, although of course it is all the time. It’s the other proposals that could use the help.

    “Those early men, were told to write down how they were created,, so they would know where they came from. On the other hand, the Aliens stated that one half of the hybrid, came from an existing homind, on Earth. Where did that homind come from? Did it evolve, here on Earth?”

    Your evidence for this, any time you want to present it. Somebody saying he was told to write X by aliens doesn’t exactly count as evidence checkable by the current methods available. Evolution has been built upon uncounted thousands of independent observations by uncounted thousands of observers…that check out. I’m not shucking it for the off chance that space aliens kickstarted us or anything. IT COULD EVEN BE TRUE; and until science can confirm it…what diff does it make…?

    “You’ll probably dismiss these stroies [sic] as myth, at worst, or science fiction, at best. Either way, you’ll be demonstrating a closed mind, rather than the open mind, you claim to have.”

    Um, no I won’t.

    See: it’s important to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out. You postulate no evidence for what you are asking me to ACCEPT. Of course I won’t do that. I prefer thinking. And what I think about Spacemen Creators is, well…gotta kinda show me where you are getting this.

    THAT’s an open mind. I never dismiss anything. I’m open to unicorns. Ridden by fairies through herds of chupacabras. But you gotta show me.



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