A trove of 47 fossil human teeth from a cave in southern China is rewriting the history of the early migration of our species out of Africa, indicating Homo sapiens trekked into Asia far earlier than previously known. Sharon Reich reports.
Could the first modern humans out of Africa, have been Chinese? A recent discovery of 47 human teeth in a cave in China's Hunan province has a group of Chinese scientists ... saying yes. The teeth are anywhere between 80,000 and 120,000 years old, which would put our species in southern China 30,000 to 70,000 years earlier than in the eastern Mediterranean or Europe. Researcher Xing Song of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. SOUNDBITE: Xing Song, Researcher, Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, saying (Mandarin): "This kind of completely modern human appeared in East Asia in the early Pleistocene period, so basically more than tens of thousands of years ago. But they only appeared in Europe 40,000 years ago at the earliest. Why? Our study suggests there's a chance that at the time the large numbers of Neanderthals living in Europe were a barrier to their expansion. Only when the Neanderthals more or less died out, or had died out in large numbers, did modern humans have the chance to enter mainland Europe." The research appears in the journal Nature.