1. Education
K. Kris Hirst

Early Date for Tianyuan Cave, China

By April 2, 2007

Follow me on:

A paper published today in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Erik Trinkaus and Hong Shang and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences describes the surprisingly early dates for the early modern human skeleton recovered from Tianyuan Cave, a rockshelter in the Fangshan district of China, about six kilometers southwest of the famous Zhoukoudian Homo erectus site.

Jaw bone from early modern human skeleton from Tianyuan Cave, China.
Jaw bone from early modern human skeleton from Tianyuan Cave, China.
Photo Credit: Shang et al. 2007
A total of 34 pieces of human skeleton appears to be early modern human (with some Neanderthal aspects or midway between Neanderthal and EMH) have been recovered from the site with a calibrated date of between 42,000 and 39,000 (calibrated c14) years before the present. This makes Tianyuan Cave one of the oldest EMH sites in eastern Eurasia (in addition to Niah Cave, Sarawak), and comparable in age to others outside of Africa.

Leg bones from early modern human skeleton from Tianyuan Cave, China.
Leg bones from early modern human skeleton from Tianyuan Cave, China.
Photo Credit: Shang et al. 2007
The importance of the date for Tianyuan (and the no-doubt-soon-to-be-debated Neanderthal characteristics) is the current debates about the origins of Early Modern Humans, whether they originated in Africa and then migrated out replacing Neanderthals and Homo erectus (called the Out of Africa hypothesis) or Homo erectus evolved into EMH at several places throughout the world, helped along by gene flow (called the Multi-regional hypothesis). This ca 40,000 year-old-date is similar in date to the oldest occurrences of EMH in the world, at sites like Nazlet Khater 1 (Egypt) and Pestera cu Oase (Romania).

Comments

No comments yet. Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.