Newfound fragments of a human skull from Laos called the earliest evidence of rapid dispersal of Homo sapiens in Asia.
Anatomically modern type originated about 200 thousand years ago in Africa. When and how our lineage then learned the rest of the land is still being debated. Archaeological and genetic evidence suggests that modern humans migrated out of Africa rapidly in Southeast Asia at least 60 thousand years ago. But the situation is complicated by the absence of fossil evidence of settlement of mainland Southeast Asia, which was dismissed by a lower probability of survival of bone in the humid tropics.
Reconstruction of the skull, found in Pa. There Ling (here and below the photo F. Demeter and P. Duringer).
They find in Pa Ling (Monkey Cave) in the north of Laos can fill this gap in the archaeological record. Laura Ling Sheklford the University of Illinois (USA) and her colleagues made their historic discovery in 2009 in a limestone cave, which is on top of the mountain Pa Hang (1170 m above sea level), surrounded by banana and papaya, attracting crowds of monkeys (hence the name of the cave).
Get to it was the most difficult. Although it is located just 240 km from the capital, the researchers took two days to travel on rough terrain and climbing. Once inside, the archaeologists had to walk 60 meters down the slope of wet clay, drawing with lights, generator and other equipment. All the clay had to be removed by hand — with the help of a trowel and a bucket.
Let the scientists say thank you for what they started in the dry season — in winter, when it is not necessary to solve the problem of insects and snakes. Sometimes, however, the snake still fell into the excavation site, and there were spiders and bats.
The interesting thing is that, along with fragments of the skull did not match any artifact, no sign of human activity. Possibly in a cave and really no one has ever lived, and the remains were originally at the entrance to it, and only then were washed away by rains inside.
The shape of bones and teeth clearly speaks of anatomically modern humans. The various methods of dating the surrounding sediments showed that the fossils of at least 46-51 thousand years, and direct dating of the bones gave a maximum age of about 63 thousand years. Thus, it is the earliest anatomically modern human remains to the east of Asia.
What conclusions can be drawn from the findings of the history of human migration? Commonly believed that modern man moved along the coastline. So he got from India to Southeast Asia, then crossed over to Indonesia and reached Australasia. Now we can say that some groups deviated from this main route, taking the north and north-east in the direction of China. Some were able to cross the mountains of South-East Asia — most likely moving along river valleys. So people were quite early in Laos, Vietnam, and the interior of Thailand.
It should be noted that in those places has thousands of limestone caves that are yet to be explored. And while experts really want to know, you run out of attempts to isolate DNA from the remains.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Prepared according to LiveScience.
Category: Archaeological discoveries