Hu­mans ar­rive ear­lier in SE Asia than be­lieved

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS -

Hu­mans may have ex­ited out of Africa and ar­rived in South­east Asia 20,000 years ear­lier than pre­vi­ously thought, a new study in­volv­ing Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land re­searchers sug­gests.

Find­ings from the Mac­quarie Uni­ver­sity-led study also sug­gest hu­mans could have po­ten­tially made the cross­ing to Aus­tralia even ear­lier than the ac­cepted 60,000 to 65,000 years ago. Dr Gil­bert Price of UQ School of Earth and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences said the dat­ing of a cave site in West Su­ma­tra, called Lida Ajer, pro­vided first ev­i­dence for rain­for­est use of modern hu­mans.

“Rain­forests aren’t the eas­i­est place to make a liv­ing, espe­cially for a sa­van­nah-adapted pri­mate, so it sug­gests that th­ese peo­ple were ahead of the curve in terms of in­tel­li­gence, plan­ning and tech­no­log­i­cal adap­ta­tion,” Dr Price said.

The new work came about thanks to the work of a bril­liant Dutch pa­leo-an­thro­pol­o­gist Eu­gene Dubois, famed for his dis­cov­ery of ‘Java Man’. “He vis­ited a se­ries of caves in Su­ma­tra in the late 1800s, and in one in par­tic­u­lar, re­cov­ered some hu­man teeth, which is quite in­ter­est­ing in it­self, but no one had spent much time try­ing to de­ter­mine their sig­nif­i­cance,” Dr Price said.

“Fast for­ward over 100 years later, both the team of lead au­thor Dr Kira West­away of Mac­quarie Uni­ver­sity and my crew (sep­a­rately) were lucky enough to re-dis­cover and visit the caves.

As a re­sult of thor­ough doc­u­men­ta­tion of the cave, re­anal­y­sis of the spec­i­mens, and a new dat­ing pro­gram, it was con­firmed the teeth were modern hu­mans, Homo sapi­ens, but dated to as old as 73,000 years ago.”

South­east Asia is a key re­gion in the path of hu­man dis­per­sal from Africa round to Aus­tralia, as all ho­minins would have had to pass through this re­gion en route to Aus­tralia. Above: The Lida Ajer modern hu­man tooth (left top) with its cor­re­spond­ing scanned image (left bot­tom) com­pared to an orang­utan tooth (right)

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