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Modern humans emerged far earlier than previously thought, fossils from China suggest

Date:
October 28, 2010
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
An international team of researchers has discovered well-dated human fossils in southern China that markedly change anthropologists perceptions of the emergence of modern humans in the eastern Old World.
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Scientists have discovered early modern human fossil remains in the Zhirendong (Zhiren Cave) in south China that are at least 100,000 years old.
Credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology

An international team of researchers, including a physical anthropology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has discovered well-dated human fossils in southern China that markedly change anthropologists perceptions of the emergence of modern humans in the eastern Old World.

The research, based at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, was published Oct. 25 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The discovery of early modern human fossil remains in the Zhirendong (Zhiren Cave) in south China that are at least 100,000 years old provides the earliest evidence for the emergence of modern humans in eastern Asia, at least 60,000 years older than the previously known modern humans in the region.

"These fossils are helping to redefine our perceptions of modern human emergence in eastern Eurasia, and across the Old World more generally," says Eric Trinkaus, PhD, the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences and professor of physical anthropology.

The Zhirendong fossils have a mixture of modern and archaic features that contrasts with earlier modern humans in east Africa and southwest Asia, indicating some degree of human population continuity in Asia with the emergence of modern humans.

The Zhirendong humans indicate that the spread of modern human biology long preceded the cultural and technological innovations of the Upper Paleolithic and that early modern humans co-existed for many tens of millennia with late archaic humans further north and west across Eurasia.


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.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wu Liu, Chang-Zhu Jin, Ying-Qi Zhang, Yan-Jun Cai, Song Xing, Xiu-Jie Wu, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards, Wen-Shi Pan, Da-Gong Qin, Zhi-Sheng An, Erik Trinkaus, Xin-Zhi Wu. Human remains from Zhirendong, South China, and modern human emergence in East Asia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014386107

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Washington University in St. Louis. "Modern humans emerged far earlier than previously thought, fossils from China suggest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025172924.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2010, October 28). Modern humans emerged far earlier than previously thought, fossils from China suggest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025172924.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Modern humans emerged far earlier than previously thought, fossils from China suggest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025172924.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

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