Fossils double age of humans in Asia

Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:56 PM
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BEIJING, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- New fossil evidence suggests modern humans could have reached East Asia much earlier than previously believed, researchers say.

Chinese and U.S. researchers have analyzed fossilized teeth and part of a jaw unearthed in southern China in 2007 and say the fragments belonged to a "modern" human who lived 100,000 years ago, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The result is likely to generate controversy, as the earliest humans previously known in East Asia were just half that age, the BBC said.

If the age of the fossils is confirmed it means modern humans co-existed with our closest relatives -- Neanderthals and Neanderthal-like people -- across Asia, one researcher said.

"There are some archaic features in the specimen and that suggests to us that these are not just simply modern humans coming out of Eastern Africa, but somewhere along the way they probably intermixed with regional groups of archaic humans," Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St Louis said.

"Previous evidence for co-existence was basically between Europe and Western Asia and adjacent parts of Africa, but what this suggests is that the geographical range of co-existence spread all the way across Asia, which is an enormous difference," Trinkaus said.

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