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China's Earliest Modern Human

Date:
April 3, 2007
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing have been studying a 40,000-year-old early modern human skeleton found in China and have determined that the "out of Africa" dispersal of modern humans may not have been as simple as once thought.

A mandible from a 40,000-year-old early modern human skeleton found in China.
Credit: Erik Trinkaus

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing have been studying a 40,000-year-old early modern human skeleton found in China and have determined that the "out of Africa" dispersal of modern humans may not have been as simple as once thought.

Erik Trinkaus, Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, his colleague Hong Shang, and others at the IVPP examined the skeleton, recovered in 2003 from the Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, near Beijing City.

The skeleton dates to 42,000 to 38,500 years ago, making it the oldest securely dated modern human skeleton in China and one of the oldest modern human fossils in eastern Eurasia.

The specimen is basically a modern human, but it does have a few archaic characteristics, particularly in the teeth and hand bone. This morphological pattern implies that a simple spread of modern humans from Africa is unlikely, especially since younger specimens have been found in Eastern Eurasia with similar feature patterns.

According to Trinkaus and Shang, "the discovery promises to provide relevant paleontological data for our understanding of the emergence of modern humans in eastern Asia."

The research result will be published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on April 3.

Article #01269 "An Early Modern Human from Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, China" by Hong Shang, Haowen Tong, Shuangquan Zhang, Fuyon Chen and Erik Trinkaus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "China's Earliest Modern Human." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070402214930.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2007, April 3). China's Earliest Modern Human. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070402214930.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "China's Earliest Modern Human." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070402214930.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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