The evolutionary history of humans has just become more complicated, thanks to a new analysis in China and an excavation in Israel. Either we have just discovered new species of our ancestors or we have unearthed fossils of a known species of which we have had little physical evidence so far. Scientists can’t agree among themselves yet, but either way, their discoveries are likely to mark a turning point in our understanding of where we came from. A new assessment by a team of Chinese scientists of a Middle Pleistocene hominin skull, which dates back to about 140,000 years ago, has been christened the Dragon Man, with the technical new species name Homo longi . First discovered by a labourer in 1933 in Heilongjiang province – (Longjiang translates to Dragon River, hence the name) – it was recently donated to state researchers by the family. According to the Chinese team, the skull’s similarity to some early Homo sapiens fossils means Homo longi may be an even closer relative to modern humans than the Neanderthals. Others have argued such Middle Pleistocene Homo skulls might belong to those of early Neanderthals who marched from Europe through the Middle East to China and Siberia, and evolved to become the Denisovans. There have been few remains unearthed. Consequently, most of what is known comes from DNA analysis. Unfortunately, fossils such as Dragon Man have no genetic materials left, while physical inspection and analysis of skull features to distinguish different extinct Homo species can be subjective. Tantalisingly, Israeli scientists have discovered fossilised bones, possibly from a previously unknown group of hominins that also date to the Middle to Late Pleistocene periods and could be considered the direct ancestors of Neanderthals. The group has been called the Nesher Ramla Homo and had once roamed across the Levant (the Eastern Mediterranean). Since the start of the 21st century, the human family tree under the genus Homo has become increasingly complicated by new discoveries. Whatever the final consensus on the new findings, palaeoanthropologists and their other scientific colleagues will have much to debate and work to do. The Chinese researchers will have much to contribute in this endeavour.