I honestly don’t know what’s going on here. Two PDFs of research articles are floating about, but i’m too fuzzy-brained and undereducated to muddle through them.
The fossils date to the mid-Pleistocene to a river basin in northwestern India. They aren’t sure if they are modern humans or archaic hominids. One researcher was insisting on their being ancestors to modern pygmies, which is weird and almost certainly wrong.
I’m leaning on the usual wild guess… another archaic human branch that wound up in modern human DNA through admixture, possibly only in South Asians or probably only Austronesians. They’ll be distinct from both Neandertals and Denisovans.
Update 0.1.29.13: As noted in comments, the article seems to read differently than it did originally. There is a noted correction at the suggestion of Dr. A. R. Sankhyan on January 21st. It’s likely changing the wording to mean more specifically pygmies of South Asia and the article now seems far, far more plausible. The reason why I get nervous about the possibility of anyone even hinting about westward migration that early, back into Africa, is because there is all kinds of dubious research that has bubled up through my years of combing through these news stories proposing human evolved in China that reeks of nationalism. Thankfully, with this correction, this research isn’t one of them.