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Human evolution: Fossil find suggests migrants left Africa earlier than thought, say paleontologists

From “Lao Skull Earliest Example of Modern Human Fossil in Southeast Asia” (Science Daily, August 20, 2012), we learn,

An ancient skull recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos is the oldest modern human fossil found in Southeast Asia, researchers report. The discovery pushes back the clock on modern human migration through the region by as much as 20,000 years and indicates that ancient wanderers out of Africa left the coast and inhabited diverse habitats much earlier than previously appreciated.

The find reveals that early modern human migrants did not simply follow the coast and go south to the islands of Southeast Asia and Australia, as some researchers have suggested, but that they also traveled north into very different types of terrain, Shackelford said.

“This find supports an ‘Out-of-Africa’ theory of modern human origins rather than a multi-regionalism model,” she said. “Given its age, fossils in this vicinity could be direct ancestors of the first migrants to Australia. But it is also likely that mainland Southeast Asia was a crossroads leading to multiple migratory paths.”

The discovery also bolsters genetic studies that indicate that modern humans occupied that part of the world at least 60,000 years ago, she said.

Photo credit: The researchers found skull fragments that date to 63,000 years ago/ Laura Shackelford

See also: Human evolution: Simmering conflict between genetic and paleontology data erupts

Science journalist: Don’t let the rubes know about human evolution controversies

New York Times report on human evolution controversy vindicates book Science and Human Origins

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3 Responses to Human evolution: Fossil find suggests migrants left Africa earlier than thought, say paleontologists

  1. Well that fits. The best estimates of the age of hominid fossils found in Australia point to arrival somewhere around 50,000 years ago. And the only fossil evidence is for modern Homo types. No Homo erectus fossils yet found in Australia.

    Just one question. Does anyone dispute the 60,000 year estimate in the original article?

  2. hi timothya,
    yes i dispute any date over 5772 years and any fossil in a cave dated over 4113 years old.
    what ‘earlier then expected’ ponts to is ‘the recent complex creation’ 5772 years ago w/ the global Mabul by Noach 4112 years ago, followed by the ‘ice age’.
    carbon and other radiometric have to be calibrated for.. to be even close to accurate.
    see the recent complex creation for proof and sources.

  3. Pearlman, thanks.

    Is your disagreement based on an alternative dating method for the fossils?

    Do I understand you right – that the ice age occurred less than 4112 years ago?

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