Ancient teeth China

Forty-seven human teeth dug up out of a cave in southern China reveal that our species, Homo sapiens, may have arrived in China 80,000 years ago – long before humans were able to leave their mark on Northern China and Europe.

The Ancient teeth China findings, published in the journal Nature, may compel researchers to reconsider the current view of human migrations out of Africa – and could hint that Neanderthals may have been a much greater barrier to Europe than previously thought.

These 47 teeth, estimated to be between 80,000 and 120,000 years old, were found in a cave in Dao county, Hunan province in China.

Ancient teeth China: These 47 teeth, estimated to be between 80,000 and 120,000 years old, were found in a cave in Dao county, Hunan province in China.

Scientists believe that Homo sapiens first emerged in East African somewhere between 190,000 and 160,000 years ago, spread into the eastern Mediterranean around 100,000 to 60,000 years ago but then were replaced by Neanderthals after that, according to Robin Dennell of the University of Exeter, who was not involved in the paper.

“The fossils reveal that 80,000 years ago, the first modern humans appeared somewhere in southern China,” said one of the study’s lead researchers, Liu Wu, from China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP). “We believe that southern China probably was a central area for modern evolution.”

What does The Ancient teeth China finding mean?

“What does this mean? What is the origin of this population (of people in China)? And what is their fate?” she asked. “Some people really now have to reconsider models. Maybe there’s not only one (migration) out of Africa, (maybe) there are several out of Africa.”

One of the lead researchers, Liu Wu, on an excavation trip to the Daoxian cave in 2014.

One of the lead researchers, Liu Wu, on an excavation trip to the Daoxian cave in 2014.

“And also we have to understand what happened in Asia,” she added. “These populations, did they really evolve also for a while outside Africa?”

The successful dispersal westward into Europe would not have come until much later, around 40,000 years ago. And scientists think that our species didn’t trek eastward until around 60,000 years ago, an idea based on some genetic estimates as well as on the similarities between stone tools in South Africa dated to 60,000 years ago and some in South Asia from 36,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Teeth from China reveal early human trek out of Africa

Teeth from China reveal early human trek out of Africa