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Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Oldest Homo Sapiens from China Inter-bred with Erectus/Denisovan- The fossil displays mixed traits

The classical theory says that Homo sapiens emerged about 100,000 years ago in Africa and about 50-60,000 years ago started to spread out of Africa, colonizing the entire planet.

Homo sapiens would have wiped out all the pre-existent more archaic Homo species from Eurasia, and this way, our species ensured itself a huge place under the sun.

But a new research led by Erik Trinkausa, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and Hong Shang, a colleague in the same department at Washington University and a scholar at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows that newly discovered fossil of an early Homo sapiens discovered in Beijing points out that the early dispersal of modern humans could be much more complex than first believed.

The fossils were dated 38,000 to 42,000 years ago, being the oldest Homo sapiens skeleton from eastern Eurasia, and one of the oldest human remains from the region, signaled the researchers.

The individual is basically a Homo sapiens, but he displays some archaic traits in the teeth and hand bone.

"The discovery casts further doubt on the longstanding "Out of Africa" theory which holds that when modern Homo sapiens spread eastwards from sub-Saharan Africa to Eurasia about 65,000 to 25,000 years ago, they simply replaced the native late archaic humans. The evidence has been steadily growing for some time with respect to western Eurasia to show that these modern humans interbred with local archaic humans as they spread," said Trinkaus.

"We haven't had good fossil data from eastern Eurasia to indicate whether the same thing was happening there. But this fossil, which is the first from China to be securely dated to this time period, proves that this interbreeding went on there too."

The remains were dug from the Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, China, in 2003, and could offer crucial clues about the replacement of archaic Homo erectus by modern humans in eastern Eurasia.

"The discovery promises to provide relevant paleontological data for our understanding of the emergence of modern humans in eastern Asia," added Trinkaus. Source Article

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