Before homo sapiens emerged triumphant, humans were composed of various different species that viciously fought over territory and resources, according to a new paper published in the journal Science that posits the discovery of a new species that were ancestors to the Neanderthals.
The discovery does not dramatically change the general picture of human evolution, but it complicates it a bit, providing new evidence that there were many distinct, and largely isolated, human species existing simultaneously and sometimes competing with one another in a harsh environment marked by advancing and retreating ice sheets.
The lead author of the new paper, paleoanthropologist Juan Luis Arsuaga of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, refers to this as "a Game of Thrones scenario."
As he put it, there was no Middle Pleistocene kingdom ruling over everything, but rather many competing houses vying for the same land. [The Washington Post]
The new species reportedly had very strong jaws that possibly could be used to grip things. No word yet on whether they had blue eyes and accepted sacrificial offerings of human babies.