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Thread: Chinese Roots: Skull May Complicate Human-Origins Debate

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    Post Chinese Roots: Skull May Complicate Human-Origins Debate

    By Bruce Bower

    In 1958, farm workers digging in a cave in southern China's Liujiang County discovered several human bones including a skull. Relying on its resemblance to securely dated human fossils in Japan, scientists assigned this Homo sapiens skull an age of 20,000 to 30,000 years.

    However, the Liujiang finds may be much older than that, according to a report in the December Journal of Human Evolution.

    The fossils probably came from sediment dating to 111,000 to 139,000 years ago, says a team led by geologist Guanjun Shen of Nanjing (China) Normal University. He and his coworkers add that it's still possible that the Liujiang discoveries came either from a cave deposit dating from around 68,000 years ago or from one dating to more than 153,000 years ago.

    If any of these estimates pans out, "the Liujiang [specimen] is revealed as one of the earliest modern humans in East Asia," the team concludes. The presence of modern humans in this part of the world 100,000 years ago or more would roughly coincide with their earliest fossil dates in Africa and the Middle East.

    Evidence of such ancient roots for H. sapiens in China creates problems for the influential out-of-Africa theory of human evolution, Shen's group says. That theory holds that modern humanity originated in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago and then spread elsewhere, replacing other Homo species. If the Liujiang dates were confirmed, out-of-Africa adherents would need to find older African H. sapiens fossils than they now have or show that modern humans migrated extremely quickly from Africa to eastern Asia.

    The new dates also suggest that other, more-primitive-looking Chinese Homo fossils that date to 150,000 to 100,000 years ago represent a lineage that coexisted with modern humans, Shen proposes.

    Scientific accounts from 1959 and 1965 of the Liujiang discoveries guided the new determination of the fossils' likely burial site. Shen's team mapped various soil deposits in the cave and calculated the age of crystallized limestone samples by using the rate of uranium decay.

    Uranium analyses at other sites support an ancient origin of modern humans in southern China, Shen says. H. sapiens teeth found at two other caves in this region come from sediment that his group dates to at least 94,000 years ago.

    Anthropologists with divergent views about human evolution say that the new age estimate for the Liujiang skull remains preliminary. It's still uncertain how the skull got in the cave and where it was originally buried, remarks Christopher B. Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London. Stringer, an out-of-Africa proponent, says that Shen's team members need to date either the skull itself or the calcite clinging to its surface to make their case.

    Milford H. Wolpoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor agrees. "I'd love for the Liujiang skull to be as old as Shen proposes, but we'll never know for sure without directly dating the specimen," Wolpoff holds. In his view, modern humanity evolved simultaneously in Africa, Asia, and Europe over the past 2 million years.

    Shen says he hopes to work out an agreement with Chinese officials in charge of the Liujiang skull to date the specimen directly.


    ****************

    It has been established that modern humans were living in the Levant and Africa ca. 100 ka ago. Hitherto, this has contrasted with the situation in China where no unequivocal specimens of this species have been securely dated to more than 30 ka. Here we present the results of stratigraphic studies and U-series dating of the Tongtianyan Cave, the discovery site of the Liujiang hominid, which represents one of the few well-preserved fossils of modern Homo sapiens in China.

    The human fossils are inferred to come from either a refilling breccia or a primarily deposited gravel-bearing sandy clay layer. In the former case, which is better supported, the fossils would date to at least ~68 ka, but more likely to ~111–139 ka. Alternatively, they would be older than ~153 ka. Both scenarios would make the Liujiang hominid one of the earliest modern humans in East Asia, possibly contemporaneous with the earliest known representatives from the Levant and Africa. Parallel studies on other Chinese localities have provided supporting evidence for the redating of Liujiang, which may have important implications for the origin of modern humans.

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    Post Re: Chinese Roots: Skull may complicate human-origins debate

    My idea was always that modern humans appeared much earlier than 50.000 years ago in Eurasia, would be nice if this proof could be verified.
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    Post Re: Chinese Roots: Skull may complicate human-origins debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Euclides
    Chinese Roots: Skull may complicate human-origins debate
    Bruce Bower
    Based on seven cranial measurements, Matsumura and Zuraina found Liujiang to be the closest to the Andamanese Negritos.

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    Chinese skull discovery may cause human origins rethink

    The well-preserved skull was found in the central Chinese province of Henan, and Chinese scientists say it could disprove the widely-held theory that Homo sapiens originated in Africa.

    http://www.inteldaily.com/?c=120&a=4976

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    The opposite theory, the Out-of-Africa model, says that Homo sapiens originated in Africa, and that some prehistoric humans left the continent about 60,000 years ago. This theory is supported by the small number of older human fossils found in other regions as compared to on the African continent.
    If the finding and its chronological status can be proven, its primarily an argument for a longer sapiens evolution and a longer time sapiens living outside of Africa. Nothing else. It tells us nothing about where they came from, just that the timeline some had must be wrong - and there were voices for a longer time of Out of Africa already.

    This is no proof for a multiregional thesis however, as long as there is no direct line from erectus to sapiens in Asia, which I would doubt.
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    The skull appears quite modern looking from what I can see of it, and extraordinarily intact. Do that strike anyone as anomalous, given it's supposed age?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Horned God View Post
    The skull appears quite modern looking from what I can see of it, and extraordinarily intact. Do that strike anyone as anomalous, given it's supposed age?

    I hope they dont begin to fake proofs for proving their own "Chinese race"

    Lets see what comes out of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa View Post
    I hope they dont begin to fake proofs for proving their own "Chinese race"

    Lets see what comes out of it.
    Indeed, it probaly best to wait what will come out of this then overhastely drawing conclusions. Alto it is intresting.

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    erectus > sapience out of africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa View Post
    This is no proof for a multiregional thesis however,
    as long as there is no direct line from erectus to sapiens in Asia,
    which I would doubt.
    you raise an interesting point.

    your analysis of
    the evidence presented on this web-site
    would be appreciated.

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