Teeth found in Chinese caves nullify prior rewrite of human migration story

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EXCERPTS: . . . We know non-sapiens hominins began leaving Africa almost 2 million years ago, going by the discovery of small-brained erectus remains in Dmanisi, Georgia. Over a million years after that exit, the hominin ancestral to Neanderthals and Denisovans also drifted out of Africa to Eurasia. In Africa, no evidence of either line has been found.

Hundreds of thousands of years after the proto-Neanderthal exit, anatomically modern humans began leaving Africa too. [...] But genetic analysis has shown, so far at least, that all non-African people existing today arose from humans who expanded out of Africa 65,000 to 45,000 years ago. Ergo, the earlier modern human exiters went extinct; in Europe, they were evidently replaced, or never prevailed over Neanderthals.

But how far early modern humans got before their lines went extinct is another matter. In 2015, scientists startled with the announcement that modern human teeth found in southern China dated to 120,000 to 100,000 years of age. Now, though, the new paper says the teeth were misdated.

[...] what were thought to be signs of modern humans from as much as 120,000 years ago were actually signs of modern humans from around 16,000 years ago or less, claims a new paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Its informational innovation was extracting and testing DNA from teeth identified as early modern human that had been found in five caves in southern China, combined with wider genetic analysis and multiple geological dating methods.

To be clear, it’s still possible that lines of early modern humans did trek to Eurasia, China and even Southeast Asia very early. But if they did, they went extinct. No evidence of such an early migration has been found to date in China, the authors conclude – given that the fossil teeth in the caves were not the smoking gun after all... (MORE - details)

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