Researchers have found remains of Homo erectus, a part-human, part-ape creature, in Thailand for the first time.
Four pieces from the top part of a Homo erectus skull, one of the earliest ancestors of mankind, were unearthed by members of a Thai archaeological expedition.
The fossils were found in 1999 in a cave at a remote phosphate mine in Lampang province, 317 miles north of Bangkok.
This find is the first evidence unearthed of the existence of Homo erectus in Asia outside of China and Indonesia, said Jirapan Attajinda, chief of the National Research Council of Thailand.
The well-known discoveries of Java Man in 1888 and Peking Man in 1929 have provided important evidence in the search for mankind's origins.
These new fossils are at least 500,000 years old according to studies of the earth layer in which they were found, said Somsak Pramankij, a survey team member.
He said the find puts another piece into the incomplete jigsaw puzzle of humanity's origins.
The specimens were examined by Philip Tobias, a renowned anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
He has eventually confirmed the Thai researchers' belief that they came from a Homo erectus.
The earliest known Homo erectus finds have been in the Rift Valley in east Africa and in South Africa.
Some studies suggest the early Homo erectus became the first two-legged migrants after only a few thousand years of their evolutionary appearance in Africa.