Ancient teeth point to earliest modern humans in southern China

From ABC News in Science, 15 October 2015:

Modern humans may have occupied southern China at least 30,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Archaeologists have found 47 Homo sapiens teeth closely resembling our own, dated from 80,000-120,000 years old, in a cave in Hunan province, according to a letter published today in Nature.

The discovery adds a new chapter to the story of modern human migration, suggesting that our genetic ancestors were not the first H. sapiens to populate east Asia.

While the researchers did not find any other human bones or stone tools at the Hunan province site, they did uncover a large number of teeth from other animals, including five extinct large mammals such as an ancient elephant and an ancestor of the giant panda.

Researchers said the discovery also showed modern humans were living in southern China 30,000-70,000 years earlier than they were found in Europe.

They suggested the slower migration of H. sapiens into Europe may have been the result of competition with Neanderthals, which ultimately led to extinction of Neanderthals and the dominance of modern humans. Read more.

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