Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Out Of Africa: Scientists Find Earliest Evidence Yet Of Human Presence In Northeast Asia

Date:
October 1, 2004
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Early humans lived in northern China about 1.66 million years ago, according to research reported in the journal Nature this week. The finding suggests humans—characterized by their making and use of stone tools—inhabited upper Asia almost 340,000 years before previous estimates placed them there, surviving in a pretty hostile environment.

Stone artifacts and modified bones from Majuangou. Top left, nortch made on a flake. Top right, chopper made on angular fragment. Middle left, multi-platform polyhedron made on angular fragment. Middle right, scraper made on a flake. Bottom left, hammerstone. Bottom right, mammalian long-bone fragments with impact notches and flake scars.
Credit: Permission granted, R. Potts

Arlington, Va. -- Early humans lived in northern China about 1.66 million years ago, according to research reported in the journal Nature this week. The finding suggests humans—characterized by their making and use of stone tools—inhabited upper Asia almost 340,000 years before previous estimates placed them there, surviving in a pretty hostile environment.

The research team, including Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, reports the results of excavating four layers of sediments at Majuangou in north China. All the layers contained indisputable stone tools apparently made by early humans, known to researchers as “hominins.”

The top layer, located about 145-148 feet deep in the Earth’s soil, contains the oldest known record of hominin stone tools, dating back to 1.32 million years ago. But the fourth and deepest layer, in which Potts and his team also found stone tools, is about 340,000 years older than that.

According to Potts, “Because the oldest layers show humans made tools and extracted bone marrow like early people in Africa, the Majuangou evidence suggests strong connections with African hominins and their rapid spread across Asia.”

All four sediment layers the researchers examined contained evidence that early humans used stone tools to strike other stones, most likely to fashion chopping and scraping tools. In the three deepest layers, the stone tools are made of rocks unlike those in the surrounding sediment, indicating the Asia humans transported the rocks from another place. It also appears these humans used their tools on bones of deer- and horse-sized mammals, perhaps to butcher them for food.

According to Mark Weiss, physical anthropology program director at the National Science Foundation, which funded the discovery, “This research is helping us gain a picture of the adaptability of humans as they evolved and moved out of the tropics and into other environments.”

The research team used rock-magnetic dating methods to establish the age of the artifacts collected at the Majuangou site and compared them to the soil history of a nearby site that contained a more-complete record of sediment deposits through time. Factoring in other known geological events, such as the natural movement of the Earth’s magnetic poles over time, the scientists pieced together a detailed age sequence for the archeological levels.

These findings suggest that humans reached northeast Asia earlier than scientists had previously thought. Furthermore, the Majuangou site evidence is only slightly older than evidence found at the same latitude in western Eurasia and about the same age as the earliest known human fossils found in southeast Asia. This implies that African human populations came to Asia and spread rapidly to many areas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Out Of Africa: Scientists Find Earliest Evidence Yet Of Human Presence In Northeast Asia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041001092127.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2004, October 1). Out Of Africa: Scientists Find Earliest Evidence Yet Of Human Presence In Northeast Asia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041001092127.htm
National Science Foundation. "Out Of Africa: Scientists Find Earliest Evidence Yet Of Human Presence In Northeast Asia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041001092127.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — A new study is packed with interesting Neanderthal-related findings, including a "definitive answer" to when they went extinct. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) — A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) — Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins