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
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