Fossilized teeth are oldest evidence of humans in Asia

Homo sapiens may have gravitated out of Africa and into Asia much earlier than previously thought. The change in estimates is due to 47 fossilized human teeth found in a South China cave, the discovery of which was announced to the public yesterday. According to scientists, the teeth are 80,000 to 120,000 years old, and are the oldest yet evidence for modern humans in Europe. This would place the migration from Africa into Asia at a far earlier time than the migration into Europe.

The fossilized teeth were discovered in Daoxian county in Hunan Province, specifically within the Fuyan Cave site. The finding is a big deal, one that pegs modern human travels into southern China as having happened 30,000 to 70,000 before they arrived in Europe or the eastern Mediterranean.

Modern humans made their appearance in eastern Africa about 200,000 years ago, but after that point, the timeline becomes fuzzy. It is known humans migrated elsewhere in the world (obviously), but when that took place and in what regions at which times are unclear. This new discovery helps shed light on that migration, giving a definitive location and point in time.

It is thought modern humans may have first traveled into southern China before Europe because of the latter's colder, harsher climate, as well as the presence of Neanderthals in that area. Said Maria Martinon-Torres, a paleoanthropologist, "This finding suggests that Homo sapiens is present in Asia much earlier than the classic, recent 'Out of Africa' hypothesis was suggesting: 50,000 years ago."

SOURCE: Reuters