Teeth from China are the earliest evidence of human's trek out of Africa.
Archeologists have unearthed 47 ancient teeth in a cave in Southern China. The discovery dates to around 80,000 to 120,000 years ago and indicates that humans arrived in China around 100,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought.
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Before this, the earliest, well-preserved fossil remains suggested that humans reached China not before 45,000 years ago.
According to current archeological theories, modern Homo sapiens began to evolve around 200,000 years ago and were not existent beyond Africa. Then from Africa, humans spread or migrated to the other parts of the world. However, the latest finding in Hunan province conflicts with the theory that humans reached Asia around 50,000 years ago.
The ancient teeth excavated from China represent the earliest evidence of Homo sapiens outside Africa and researchers claim that it is “one of the most important finds coming out of Asia in the last decade.”
"They are indeed the earliest Homo sapiens with fully modern morphologies outside of Africa," lead author Wu Liu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Discovery News. "At the Levant (much of the eastern Mediterranean), we also have human remains from the sites of Qafzeh and Skhul (in Israel) with similar ages, but these fossils have been described as retaining some primitive features and, thus, are not fully modern."
The remains from Qafzeh and Skhul are considered unsuccessful migratory examples by many palaeoanthropologists but latest one is not.
“This is a rock-solid case for having early humans — definitely Homo sapiens— at an early date in eastern Asia.” Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London
The discovery also suggests that modern humans reached Eastern Asia long before they reached Europe.
“Humans could not gain a foothold in Europe until Neanderthals there were teetering on extinction. The frigid climate of Ice Age Europe may have erected another barrier to people adapted to Africa.” Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study said.
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Where this new finding challenges many previous theories and causes to raise many eyebrows, it will also help put a fresh perspective on ancient humans.