Monday, November 8, 2021

Extinct Rhinoceros and Stegodons Used to Roam Kalinga Hundreds of Thousands of Years Ago

In 2018, an international research team composed of French, Filipino, Australian and Dutch scientists published a paper in the scientific journal Nature that cast doubt on the established timeline of ancient human activity in the Philippines. The paper explained in detail the findings of the team based on fossils and stone tools found in archaeological digs in the province of Kalinga.

Prior to the discovery of the fossilized remains and stone tools in Kalinga, the earliest evidence of human settlement in the country points at 67,000 years. The fossils found in Kalinga date back to 709,000 years ago. This means that the discovery pushes back the timeline by more than 600,00 years.

Unearthed at the archeological site in Kalinga were the fossilized remains of a now extinct species of rhinoceros (Rhinoceros philippinensis). The fossilized bones contain cut marks which means that the animal had been butchered by humans using sharp tools. Also found near the bones were more than 50 pieces of stone tools.

The sophisticated dating of the fossils show that ancient humans most definitely populated the region in Kalinga where the fossils were found. That they hunted, slaughtered and feasted on the rhinoceros. However, it's not known who these ancient humans were because human bones weren't found alongside or near the fossils.

So who butchered the ancient rhinoceros? It's not known but there's a likely suspect - the Homo erectus. Hundreds of fossils of the Homo erectus have been found in Indonesia. Indonesia is not too far off from the Philippines. So the theory that they've made it to the region that is now Kalinga makes good sense.

Also found in the Kalinga archeological digs are the remains of a stegodon. This is a prehistoric animal that existed from 11.6 million years ago up to the Pleistocene period (2.5 million to 11,700 years ago).
The fossils are on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Manila.


Text and poster by Jiles Arvin A. Vergara and Jaan Ruy Nogot, NMP GPD; 
Courtesy of National Museum of the Philippines