OLDEST MODERN HUMAN SITES IN ASIA

EARLIEST EVIDENCE OF MODERN HUMANS IN ASIA AND OCEANIA


Jwalapuram's location in India

Country — Date — Place — Notes
China — 80,000–120,000 years before present — Fuyan Cave — Teeth were found under rock over which 80,000 years old stalagmites had grown.
India — 70,000 years before present — Jwalapuram, Andhra Pradesh — Recent finds of stone tools in Jwalapuram before and after the Toba supereruption, may have been made by modern humans, but this is disputed.
Indonesia —63,000-73,000 years before present — Lida Ajer cave — Teeth found in Sumatra in the 19th century
Philippines —67,000 years before present — Callao Cave — Archaeologists, Dr. Armand Mijares with Dr. Phil Piper found bones in a cave near Peñablanca, Cagayan in 2010 have been dated as ca. 67,000 years old. It's the earliest human fossil ever found in Asia-Pacific [Source: Wikipedia +]

Australia — 65,000 years before present — Madjedbebe — The oldest human skeletal remains are the 40,000-year-old Lake Mungo remains in New South Wales, but human ornaments discovered at Devil's Lair in Western Australia have been dated to 48,000 years before present and artifacts at Madjedbebe in Northern Territory are dated to ca. 65,000 Years before present.
Taiwan — 50,000 years before present — Chihshan Rock Site — Chipped stone tool similar to those of the Changpin culture on the east coast.
Japan — 47,000 years before present — Lake Nojiri — Genetic research indicates arrival of humans in Japan by 37,000 Years before present. Archeological remains at the Tategahana Paleolithic Site at Lake Nojiri have been dated as early as 47,000 Years before present. +

Laos — 46,000 years before present — Tam Pa Ling Cave — In 2009 an ancient skull was recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos which is at least 46,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil found to date in Southeast Asia
Borneo — 46,000 years before present — (see Malaysia)
East Timor — 42,000 years before present — Jerimalai cave — Fish bones
Tasmania — 41,000 years before present — Jordan River Levee — Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 41,000 Years before present. Rising sea level left Tasmania isolated after 8000 Years before present.
Hong Kong — 39,000 years before present — Wong Tei Tung — Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 39,000 Years before present.
Malaysia — 34,000–46,000 years before present — Niah Cave — A human skull in Sarawak, Borneo (Archaeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.) +

New Guinea — 40,000 years before present — Indonesian Side of New Guinea — Archaeological evidence shows that 40,000 years ago, some of the first farmers came to New Guinea from the South-East Asian Peninsula.
Sri Lanka — 34,000 years before present — Fa Hien Cave — The earliest remains of anatomically modern humans, based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal, have been found in the Fa Hien Cave in western Sri Lanka.
Okinawa — 32,000 years before present — Yamashita-cho cave, Naha city — Bone artifacts and an ash seam dated to 32,000±1000 Years before present.
Tibetan Plateau — 30,000 years before present
Buka Island, New Guinea — 28,000 years before present — Kilu Cave — Flaked stone, bone, and shell artifacts +

Websites and Resources on Hominins and Human Origins: Smithsonian Human Origins Program humanorigins.si.edu ; Institute of Human Origins iho.asu.edu ; Becoming Human University of Arizona site becominghuman.org ; Talk Origins Index talkorigins.org/origins ; Last updated 2006. Hall of Human Origins American Museum of Natural History amnh.org/exhibitions ; Wikipedia article on Human Evolution Wikipedia ; Evolution of Modern Humans anthro.palomar.edu ; Human Evolution Images evolution-textbook.org; Hominin Species talkorigins.org ; Paleoanthropology Links talkorigins.org ; Britannica Human Evolution britannica.com ; Human Evolution handprint.com ; National Geographic Map of Human Migrations genographic.nationalgeographic.com ; Humin Origins Washington State University wsu.edu/gened/learn-modules ; University of California Museum of Anthropology ucmp.berkeley.edu; BBC The evolution of man" bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life; "Bones, Stones and Genes: The Origin of Modern Humans" (Video lecture series). Howard Hughes Medical Institute.; Human Evolution Timeline ArchaeologyInfo.com ; Walking with Cavemen (BBC) bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life ; PBS Evolution: Humans pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans; PBS: Human Evolution Library www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library; Human Evolution: you try it, from PBS pbs.org/wgbh/aso/tryit/evolution; John Hawks' Anthropology Weblog johnhawks.net/ ; New Scientist: Human Evolution newscientist.com/article-topic/human-evolution;

Websites and Resources on Neanderthals: Wikipedia: Neanderthals Wikipedia ; Neanderthals Study Guide thoughtco.com ; Neandertals on Trial, from PBS pbs.org/wgbh/nova; The Neanderthal Museum neanderthal.de/en/ ; The Neanderthal Flute, by Bob Fink greenwych.ca. Websites and Resources on Prehistoric Art: Chauvet Cave Paintings archeologie.culture.fr/chauvet ; Cave of Lascaux archeologie.culture.fr/lascaux/en; Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) africanrockart.org; Bradshaw Foundation bradshawfoundation.com; Australian and Asian Palaeoanthropology, by Peter Brown peterbrown-palaeoanthropology.net. Fossil Sites and Organizations: The Paleoanthropology Society paleoanthro.org; Institute of Human Origins (Don Johanson's organization) iho.asu.edu/; The Leakey Foundation leakeyfoundation.org; The Stone Age Institute stoneageinstitute.org; The Bradshaw Foundation bradshawfoundation.com ; Turkana Basin Institute turkanabasin.org; Koobi Fora Research Project kfrp.com; Maropeng Cradle of Humankind, South Africa maropeng.co.za ; Blombus Cave Project web.archive.org/web; Journals: Journal of Human Evolution journals.elsevier.com/; American Journal of Physical Anthropology onlinelibrary.wiley.com; Evolutionary Anthropology onlinelibrary.wiley.com; Comptes Rendus Palevol journals.elsevier.com/ ; PaleoAnthropology paleoanthro.org.

Early Humans Reached China 80,000 Years Ago, Before They Reached Europe?

Earliest evidence of modern humans in China — 80,000–120,000 years before present — Fuyan Cave — Teeth were found under rock over which 80,000 years old stalagmites had grown. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In 2015, Chinese scientists announced they discovered 47 teeth from modern humans in Fuyan Cave in southern China's Hunan province that date back at least 80,000 years. Charles Q. Choi wrote in Live Science, “Teeth from a cave in China suggest that modern humans lived in Asia much earlier than previously thought, and tens of thousands of years before they reached Europe, researchers say...Modern humans first originated about 200,000 years ago in Africa. When and how the modern human lineage dispersed from Africa has long been controversial. Previous research suggested the exodus from Africa began between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago. However, recent research hinted that modern humans might have begun their march across the globe as early as 130,000 years ago. [Source: Charles Q. Choi, Live Science, October 14, 2015 <>]


teeth from Fuyan Cave in China


“One place that could shed light on the spread of humanity is southern China, which is dotted with fossil-rich caves. Scientists analyzed modern human teeth that they unearthed in Fuyan Cave in southern China's Hunan province, which is part of a system of caves more than 32,300 square feet (3,000 square meters) in size. Excavations from 2011 to 2013 yielded a trove of 47 human teeth, as well as bones from many other extinct and living animals, such as pandas, hyenas and pigs. The scientists detailed their findings in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Nature. <>

“The researchers found these teeth are more than 80,000 years old, and may date back as far as 120,000 years. Until now, fossils from southern China confirmed as older than 45,000 years in age that can be confidently identified as modern human in origin have been lacking. "Our discovery, together with other research findings, suggests southern China should be the key, central area for the emergence and evolution of modern humans in East Asia," the study's co-lead author, Wu Liu, of China's Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, told Live Science. <>

“These newfound teeth are smaller than counterparts of similar ages from Africa and elsewhere in China. Instead, they more closely resemble teeth from contemporary modern humans. This suggests different kinds of humans were living in China at the same time — archaic kinds in northern China, and ones more like modern humans in southern China.The researchers said these findings could shed light on why modern humans made a relatively late entry into Europe. There is currently no evidence that modern humans entered Europe before 45,000 years ago, even though they made it as far as southern China at least as early as 80,000 years ago. The investigators suggested that Neanderthals might have prevented modern humans from crossing into Europe until after Neanderthals began dying off." The main thing holding scientists back from making further conclusions is that archaeological evidence is lacking from Fuyan Cave and other sites from that period in China.

100,000-Year-Old Modern Human Fossil in China?

A 100,000- year-old fossil human jawbone discovered in southern China has raised serious questions about when the modern humans migrated out of Africa. The mandible, unearthed by paleontologists in Zhiren Cave in Guanxi Province in southern China in 2007, sports a distinctly modern feature: a prominent chin. The fossil was called "the oldest modern human outside of Africa" by Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, and author of article on the finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Source: Rachel Kaufman, National Geographic News, October 25, 2010]

The discovery of such an ancient example of a modern human in China drastically alters the time line of human migration. The find may also mean that modern humans in China were mingling---and possibly even interbreeding---with other human species for 50,000 or 60,000 years. [Ibid]

The find also seems to suggest that anatomically modern humans arrived in China long before the species began acting human. For example, symbolic thought is a distinctly human trait that involves using things such as beads and drawings to represent objects, people, and events. The first strong evidence for this trait doesn't appear in the archaeological record in China until 30,000 years ago, Trinkaus said. [Ibid]

So far, genetic evidence largely supports the traditional timing of the "out of Africa" theory. But the newly described China jawbone presents a strong challenge, said anthropologist Christopher Bae of the University of Hawaii, who was not associated with the find. "They actually have solid dates and evidence of, basically, a modern human," he said. [Ibid]

Still, the jaw and three molars were the only human remains retrieved from the Chinese cave, and the jaw is "within the range" of Neanderthal chins as well as those of modern humans, added paleoanthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "If this holds up, we have to reevaluate" the human migration time line, he said. "Basically, I think they're right, [but] I want to see more evidence," Hawks added. "I really, really hope that there can be some sort of genetic extraction from this [fossil]." [Ibid]


fossils from Zhiren Cave


40,000-Year-Old Modern Human Fossil in China

An early modern human skeleton was discovered in Tianyuan Cave near Beijing in 2003. Based on radiocarbon analysis, skeleton was dated to be 42,000 to 38,500 years old, making it about the same age as an early modern humans from Romania, and a skeleton from a Niah Cave in Sarawak, Malaysia. [Source: John Roach, National Geographic News, April 3, 2007]

The find adds to evidence that the first Homo sapiens occasionally mated with older human species such as Neanderthals. The remains share a few characteristics with older human species, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. [Ibid]

The Chinese skeleton and similarly dated specimens from Europe and Asia have traits that had already been lost in the earliest modern humans found in Africa. You would think the 40,000-year-old modern human skeletons from outside Africa should look modern human fossils from Africa or slightly more evolved. "What we find is overwhelmingly they do," Trinkhaus said. "But these archaic characteristics that had been lost in African moderns keep popping up." [Ibid]

The skeleton from China, for example, has a genetically determined dental feature common in Neanderthals that is not present in early modern humans from Africa. "When we look at this new Chinese specimen, what we see is the archaic in tooth proportions. The individual has relatively large, big front teeth," Trinkhaus said. [Ibid]

The China specimen also has the spatula-shaped, rounded fingertips common among older human ancestors, instead of the narrow fingertips of early modern humans from Africa. The wristbones, as well, display archaic features, Trinkaus said. "So it's a couple of little features like this that show up in this individual. And so yes, it's a modern human, but given the earlier African modern humans, it's not just what you would expect," he said. [Ibid]

Chris Stringer, the head of the human-origins program at the Natural History Museum in London, England, said the Chinese skeleton is an important find that will help document the process of how modern humans became established in the region. However, he is unconvinced that the skeletal analysis is proof of interbreeding between early modern humans from Africa and more archaic species. "The problem is that we lack decent samples of early modern humans from Africa between [40,000 and] 80,000 years ago," he commented in an email. [Ibid]

But the appropriate skeletal evidence is not yet represented in the fossil record, he said. "I will keep an open mind on the extent of hypothesized admixture, while noting the interesting fact that this skeleton shows the same linear physique as early European and Israeli early moderns---a physique that may reflect a recent African origin," he said. [Ibid]

Stringer said, "There are just a couple of data points there, but it's very hard for me to explain the anatomy we see in both [the Malaysian and Chinese] specimens without saying, Yes indeed, people do what people do: that is, they get it together," he said. And sometimes when it comes to selecting mates, he added, "people are not very choosy." [Ibid]

There is evidence of human habitation on Minatogawa, an island between Taiwan and Japan, dated to 18,000 years ago. There is also evidence of human habitation at Zhoukoudian (Shadingdong) in central-eastern China dated to 11,000 years ago.

First Modern Humans in India: 70,000 Years Ago or 50,000 Years Ago?


Jwalapuram excavations

Earliest evidence of modern humans in India — 70,000 years before present — Jwalapuram, Andhra Pradesh — Recent finds of stone tools in Jwalapuram before and after the Toba supereruption, may have been made by modern humans, but this is disputed. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Tony Joseph wrote in The Hindu: “When did our species, Homo sapiens, first set foot in India? There are two competing versions of the answer: let’s call them the ‘early version’ and the ‘late version’. The ‘early version’ says they arrived 74,000 to 120,000 years ago from Africa through the Arabian peninsula with Middle Stone Age tools such as scrapers and points that helped them hunt their prey, gather food, or make clothes. The ‘late version’ says they arrived much later, around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, with upgraded technology such as microlithic (tiny stone) tools that might have been used to give sharp tips to arrows and spears. A geological event separates the two versions: the supervolcanic eruption at Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia, about 74,000 years ago, dumped tonnes of ash all over South-east Asia and South Asia, causing much stress to all life in the region. The ‘early version’ says migrants reached India before Toba; the ‘late version’ says the opposite.” [Source: Tony Joseph, The Hindu, September 5, 2017 |^^|]

Until fairly recently it seemed like late version had the most support. But two studies, published in July and August, 2017 may have changed that. “The first study, led by Professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland, established that modern humans were in Australia by between 59,300 and 70,700 years ago, or, if you take the midpoint, 65,000 years ago. That is about 15,000 years earlier than previous estimates. Prof. Clarkson and his colleagues used the latest techniques to date things left behind by humans at the Madjedbebe caves in Australia’s Northern Territory: mortars and pestles, ground-edge axes, and painting material. |^^|

“The second study, led by archaeologist Dr. Kira Westaway of the Macquarie University, palaeontologist Dr. Julien Louys of the Australian National University, and others had equally remarkable results. They reinvestigated two teeth that had been found in the Lida Ajer caves in Indonesia’s Sumatra island more than a century ago, but whose dating and provenance were disputed. Using the latest multidisciplinary techniques, they have confirmed that the teeth belonged to modern humans who lived 63,000-73,000 years ago, thus pushing back the dates for modern human occupation of South-east Asia by about 20,000 years.

The Sumatra and the Madjedbebe findings point in the same direction, says Dr. Louys: that Out of Africa (OOA) migrants made it into South-east Asia before 60,000 years ago. In fact, he says, they could have been in the region for much longer because “it is incredibly likely we’re not sampling the very first humans in Sumatra and Australia.” But if people were already in Australia and South-east Asia by 65,000 years ago, then they would have had to have left Africa and reached India much earlier (India having been a key corridor for the OOA migration). And that would put the ‘late version’ in jeopardy. Professor Ravi Korisettar of the Karnatak University, a well-known archaeologist who has worked extensively on early modern human migrations in South Asia, concurs. “These findings support our argument for an earlier migration,” he says.

The first settlers of India are our direct ancestors: about 50% to 60% of Indian genetic ancestry today comes from the first settlers, with the rest contributed by later migrants from West Asia, East Asia, and Central Asia. So, the deeply held belief that only tribals (about 8.6% of the population) carry the ancestry of the original settlers couldn’t be more wrong. The first settlers of India are, indeed, the bedrock of our population and civilisation. Without getting their story right, we cannot get the rest of our history right.

Jwalapuram Site in Andhra Pradesh


modern man skull

Tony Joseph wrote in The Hindu: “Prof. Korisettar was instrumental in discovering the Jwalapuram site in Andhra Pradesh, which posed the first big challenge to the ‘late version’. Jwalapuram lies in the Jurreru river valley and its significance is in the fact that the river basin holds layers of volcanic ash left behind by the Toba eruption. [Source: Tony Joseph, The Hindu, September 5, 2017 |^^|]

“The archaeologists who excavated Jwalapuram more than a decade ago, including Prof. Korisettar and Prof. Michael Petraglia, then of Cambridge University, found something remarkable at the bottommost layer: Middle Stone Age tools dated to around 77,000 years ago and were made by what they believe were modern humans. Those findings created a stir because they frontally challenged the ‘late version’. Prof. Korisettar and Prof. Petraglia, in fact, went on to argue that modern humans could have been in India as early as 100,000-120,000 years ago. “Ever since our paper was published in Science magazine in July 2007, we have been suggesting pre-Toba expansion,” says Prof. Korisettar. |^^|

“The Jwalapuram findings did not go uncontested, though. Middle Stone Age tools were made by both modern humans and archaic hominins such as Homo erectus and are, therefore, difficult to assign to one or the other. And India has had archaic hominins at least from about 1.5 million years ago. But Prof. Korisettar argues that the Jwalapuram artefacts are remarkably similar to those made by Middle Stone Age modern humans in Africa. That argument now finds strong support from Dr. Louys who says “it makes sense” to think modern humans were in Asia before the Toba eruption. |^^|

DNA Studies Say Modern Humans Arrived in India 50,000 to 60,000 Years Ago

Tony Joseph wrote in The Hindu: “The problem is that this suggestion bumps up against genetics. All humans belong to haplogroups or lineages (Y-DNA haplogroups for males, and mitrochondrial or mtDNA haplogroups for females), and by studying current populations using genetic markers and mutation rates, geneticists can create global family trees and estimate the age at which two haplogroups shared a common ancestor. These techniques have improved by leaps and bounds, so it’s no surprise that there’s now near-consensus about the history of human migrations. It goes something like this: Homo sapiens originated in Africa over 200,000 years ago, started range expansions into the Levant and West Asia between 120,000-100,000 years ago, and started on a colonising journey of the world around 70,000 years ago, reaching South Asia by 60,000 years, Australia by 50,000 years, and Europe by 45,000 years ago. [Source: Tony Joseph, The Hindu, September 5, 2017 |^^|]

“All non-African populations in the world, therefore, are descendants of a single, small group of migrating Africans (perhaps numbering no more than a thousand). Because of this bottleneck, the entire non-African world population belongs to just three mtDNA super-haplogroups M, N, and R (and C, D, and F in the case of non-African Y-DNA). The common ancestor of M, N, and R is a parent haplogroup called L3, which still has many lineages in Africa. Given this, it is reasonable to conclude that OOA migrations could not have happened earlier than the emergence of L3. And genetic studies say the earliest possible date for the emergence of L3 is 70,000 years ago. In other words, there is no way that an OOA migration could have happened before the Toba eruption of 74,000 years ago! |^^|

“Those who argue this also put forward other reasons why the ‘early version’ cannot hold. One of them is that genetic records show that the first migrants had spread across South Asia, South-east Asia, and Australia within a brief period of time before too many mutations could accumulate. And that means it must have been quite a sprint, in historical terms. The only way this could have been accomplished is if they took a coastal route from West Asia to India to South-east Asia and then, finally, Australia. A coastal route meant two things: one, the beach-hopping migrants could use the same skill sets to survive on marine resources such as fish and crustaceans all along their journey. Two, their march got an unintended directionality, taking them inexorably towards Australia. |^^|

“What lends support to this chronology is that at least from about 35,000 years ago, there is incontrovertible evidence of modern humans in South Asia, while evidence for earlier presence is circumstantial. The earliest modern human fossil in the region is from the Sri Lankan cave of Fa Hien, dated to 33,000-30,000 years ago. (Sri Lanka was then linked to the Indian landmass, as sea levels were lower). In India too, there is abundant evidence of microlithic tools from around the same time.” |^^|


Jwalapuram sites


Modern Humans in Sumatra 63,000-73,000 Years Ago

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Indonesia —63,000-73,000 years before present — Lida Ajer cave — Teeth found in Sumatra in the 19th century [Source: Wikipedia +]

In a study authored by archaeologist Dr. Kira Westaway of the Macquarie University, palaeontologist Dr. Julien Louys of the Australian National University, and others had equally re-examined two teeth that had been found in the Lida Ajer caves in Indonesia’s Sumatra island in the late 1800s but whose dating and species were disputed. Using the latest multidisciplinary techniques, they said the teeth belonged to modern humans who lived 63,000-73,000 years ago, pushing back the dates for modern human in Southeast Asia by about 20,000 years. [Source: Tony Joseph, The Hindu, September 5, 2017]

Bruce Bower wrote in Science News: “Humans inhabited rainforests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra between 73,000 and 63,000 years ago — shortly before a massive eruption of the island’s Mount Toba volcano covered South Asia in ash, researchers say. Two teeth previously unearthed in Sumatra’s Lida Ajer cave and assigned to the human genus, Homo, display features typical of Homo sapiens, report geoscientist Kira Westaway of Macquarie University in Sydney and her colleagues. By dating Lida Ajer sediment and formations, the scientists came up with age estimates for the human teeth and associated fossils of various rainforest animals excavated in the late 1800s, including orangutans. [Source: Bruce Bower, Science News, August 9, 2017 <<<]

Ancient DNA studies had already suggested that humans from Africa reached Southeast Asian islands before 60,000 years ago. Humans migrating out of Africa 100,000 years ago or more may have followed coastlines to Southeast Asia and eaten plentiful seafood along the way. But the Sumatran evidence shows that some of the earliest people to depart from Africa figured out how to survive in rainforests, where detailed planning and appropriate tools are needed to gather seasonal plants and hunt scarce, fat-rich prey animals, Westaway and colleagues” report online August 9, 2017 in Nature. <<<


mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia


Modern Humans in the Philippines 63,000-73,000 Years Ago

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Philippines —67,000 years before present — Callao Cave — Archaeologists, Dr. Armand Mijares with Dr. Phil Piper found bones in a cave near Peñablanca, Cagayan in 2010 have been dated as ca. 67,000 years old. It's the earliest human fossil ever found in Asia-Pacific [Source: Wikipedia ]

Colin Barras wrote in New Scientist: “In 2007, researchers found a 67,000-year-old human foot bone on the island of Luzon. It was provisionally suggested that it belonged to an unusually early Homo sapiens to the east of the Wallace line. But there are also unpublished reports that more human fossils were found on Luzon in 2014 – and that these additional finds suggest that the Luzon hominin may have been a more primitive species. [Source: Colin Barras, New Scientist, 13 January 2016]

In 2010, The Philippines Star reported: “A team of archaeologists has confirmed that a foot bone they discovered in Callao Cave in Cagayan province is at least 67,000 years old, older than the so-called Tabon Man of Palawan, which has long been thought to be the archipelago’s earliest human remains at 50,000 years old, a report on GMANews.TV said. “So far this could be the earliest human fossil found in the Asia-Pacific region. The presence of humans in Luzon shows these early humans already possessed knowledge of seacraft-making in this early period,” Dr. Armand Mijares, of the University of the Philippines-Diliman who led the team of archeologists, told GMANews.TV. The actual discovery of the bone occurred in 2007 but it was not clear then just how old the fossil was. Mijares said they were able to approximate the fossil’s age through a method called “uranium-series dating." [Source: Philippines Star, August 3, 2010 ><]

The primary theory is that Callao Man, or his ancestors, reached Luzon from what is now Indonesia by raft at a time when experts did not think human beings were capable of traveling long distances by sea. Some signs found by the scientists also indicated that Callao Man might not have been fully human, but only a species akin to modern humans. Dr. Victor Paz, a UP colleague of Mijares who was not part of the excavation, told GMANEWS.TV that the bone could be evidence of human “speciation" or the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise, taking place in Luzon. “If speciation did take place in the region and more evidence comes out of older modern human remains, it may seriously challenge current conventions on the spread of modern humans to our region," Paz said. ><

“Based on the single bone, it is not clear that Callao Man was male. But they do know that its physical size was similar to the modern Negrito, or Aytas of Luzon. The bone was the third metatarsal of the foot, thus is referred to scientifically as Callao MT3. The human bone was found in the town of Peñablanca, Cagayan in an excavation site where Mijares had started digging four years before. “We were initially frustrated that during the excavation we were only finding animal remains. But when my colleague Dr. Phil Piper, our team’s zoo-archaeologist, was looking at the finds, he said to me, 'Mandy, this is a human bone,'" Mijares said. “When we verified that it is a human bone, I knew that we discovered something very important." ><

“The presence of the remains of butchered animals in the same layer of sediment, but no stone tools, has raised interesting questions about how Callao Man killed them. “We can only speculate that they were using different tools. From our initial analysis of the cut marks on the animal bones, they could have used organic tools such as bamboo which is ubiquitous in the region," Mijares told GMANEWS.TV.” ><

According to one academic journal: “In the Philippines, a hominin fossil from Callao Cave in Luzon has not yet been identified to species. It was referred to Homo species ( Mijares et al. 2010) and favorably compared with small-bodied Homo species, such as Homo habilis and H. floresiensis (Larick and Ciochon 2015), although provisionally attributed to H. sapiens by Mijares et al. (2010). It has a minimum age of around 50,000 years old. ( Gr?n et al. 2014) and is found in association with several large taxa: the native brown deer (Cervus mariannus), the Philippine warty pig (Sus philippen- sis), and an extinct bovid (Piper and Mijares 2007).


Philippine migration patterns


Modern Humans in Laos 46,000-63,000 Years Ago

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Laos — 46,000 years before present — Tam Pa Ling Cave — In 2009 an ancient skull was recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos which is at least 46,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil found to date in Southeast Asia [Source: Wikipedia +]

In 2015, University of Illinois anthropology professor Laura Shackelford and her colleagues announced that they had found an ancient jaw and skull fragments a few meters apart in a cave in northern Laos, adding to the evidence that early modern humans were physically quite diverse, they reported in PLOS ONE. Researchers found the human skull had modern characteristics while the human jaw had modern and archaic traits. Both artifacts were dated to 46,000 to 63,000 years ago. [Source: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, University of Illinois, April 8, 2015 ==]

According to the University of Illinoise: “The skull, found in 2009 in a cave known as Tam Pa Ling in the Annamite Mountains of present-day Laos, and reported in 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the oldest modern human fossil found in Southeast Asia. Its discovery pushed back the date of modern human migration through the region by as much as 20,000 years. It revealed that early humans who migrated to the islands and coasts of Southeast Asia after migrating out of Africa also traveled inland much earlier than previously thought, some 46,000 to 63,000 years ago. ==

“The jaw was discovered in late 2010 and is roughly the same age as the skull. Unlike the skull, it has both modern and archaic human traits. "In addition to being incredibly small in overall size, this jaw has a mixture of traits that combine typical modern human anatomy, such as the presence of a protruding chin, with traits that are more common of our archaic ancestors like Neandertals - for example, very thick bone to hold the molars in place," said University of Illinois anthropology professor Laura Shackelford, who led the study with anthropologist Fabrice Demeter, of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. ==

“This combination of archaic and modern human traits is not unusual, Shackelford said. Other ancient human fossils from Africa, Eastern Europe and China also exhibit this amalgam of characteristics, she said. "Some researchers have used these features as evidence that modern humans migrating into new regions must have interbred with the archaic populations already present in those regions," Shackelford said. "But a more productive way to look at this variation is to see it as we see people today - showing many traits along a continuum."Tam Pa Ling is an exceptional site because it shows that very early modern humans migrating and settling in eastern Asia demonstrated a wide range of anatomy," Shackelford said.” ==


maternal lineage migrations in Southeast Asia


Niah Caves

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Malaysia — 34,000–46,000 years before present — Niah Cave — A human skull in Sarawak, Borneo (Archaeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.) [Source: Wikipedia +]

Niah Caves in Sarawak is an important prehistoric site where human remains dating to 40,000 years ago have been found. Archeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.

Modern humans lived that lived in Niah Caves ate orangutans, based on the presence of charred bones found in the cave. A skull found in Niah Cave in the 1950s was first described as resembling Melanesians and native Australians. This supports the notion that earlier human species living in the region were absorbed via interbreeding as Homo sapiens spread out of Africa. Ancient genetic markers are found in indigenous groups in the Andaman Inlands, in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea and among Australian aborigines.

In the 1950s and 60s, Niah Cave was the focus of several intense and active archaeological field seasons led by Tom Harrisson, Curator of Sarawak Museum, who excavated a large area on the northern side of the West Mouth. The excavations were admirable for their time, particularly given the considerable logistical difficulties that had to be overcome because of the isolation of the site and the difficulties of working in tropical environments. [Source: ABC.net; Barker G, The Niah Caves Project: Preliminary report on the first (2000) season , The Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol 55(76), December 2000]

Their most notable discovery was a human skull (the so-called 'Deep Skull') uncovered in a deep trench dubbed 'Hell Trench' by Harrisson's excavators because of the heat and humidity in this particular part of the cave's entrance. The skull was approximately at a level where stone tools had been found previously together with charcoal that yielded a radiocarbon date of around 40,000 years ago. But there are doubts about the reliability of the data collected and recorded by Harrisson.


Niah Caves


Oldest High-Altitude Settlements Discovered in Papua New Guinea

Earliest evidence modern humans in of New Guinea — 40,000 years before present — Indonesian Side of New Guinea — Archaeological evidence shows that 40,000 years ago, some of the first farmers came to New Guinea from the South-East Asian Peninsula.
Buka Island, New Guinea — 28,000 years before present — Kilu Cave — Flaked stone, bone, and shell artifacts [Source: Wikipedia]

In 2010, AFP reported: “The world's oldest known high-altitude human settlements, dating back up to 49,000 years, have been found sealed in volcanic ash in Papua New Guinea mountains, archaeologists said. Researchers have unearthed the remains of about six camps, including fragments of stone tools and food, in an area near the town of Kokoda, said an archaeologist on the team, Andrew Fairbairn. "What we've got there are basically a series of campsites, that's what they look like anyway. The remains of fires, stone tools, that kind of thing, on ridgetops," the University of Queensland academic told AFP. "It's not like a village or anything like that, they are these campsite areas that have been repeatedly used."[Source: AFP, October 1, 2010 =]

“Fairbairn said the settlements are at about 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) and believed to be the oldest evidence of our human ancestors, Homo sapiens, inhabiting a high-altitude environment. "For Homo sapiens, this is the earliest for us, for modern humans," he said. "The nearest after this is round about 30,000 years ago in Tibet, and there's some in the Ethiopian highlands at around about the same type of age." =

“Fairbairn said he had been shocked to discover the age of the finds, using radio carbon dating, because this suggested humans had been living in the cold, wet and inhospitable highlands at the height of the last Ice Age. "We didn't expect to find anything of that early age," he said. The findings, published in the journal Science, suggest that the prehistoric highlanders of Papua New Guinea's Ivane Valley in the Owen Stanley Range Mountain made stone tools, hunted small animals and ate yams and nuts. =

“But why they chose to dwell in the harsh conditions of the highlands, where temperatures would have dipped below freezing, rather than remain in the warmer coastal areas, remains a mystery. "Papua New Guinea's mountains have long held surprises for the scientific community and here is another one -- maybe they were the home of Homo sapiens' earliest mountaineers," Fairbairn said.” =

40,000 Year Old Cave Art Found in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Remains at Niah Cave show that men have been living on Borneo for a long time. In the karst interior of Borneo are networks of caves with rock art and hand prints, some of them dated to 12,000 years ago. More significantly, rock art and hand prints found in caves in Sulawesi have been dated to nearly 40,000 years ago. Deborah Netburn wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Archaeologists working in Indonesia say prehistoric hand stencils and intricately rendered images of primitive animals were created nearly 40,000 years ago. These images, discovered in limestone caves on the island of Sulawesi just east of Borneo, are about the same age as the earliest known art found in the caves of northern Spain and southern France. The findings were published in the journal Nature. "We now have 40,000-year-old rock art in Spain and Sulawesi," said Adam Brumm, a research fellow at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, and one of the lead authors of the study. "We anticipate future rock art dating will join these two widely separated dots with similarly aged, if not earlier, art." [Source: Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2014 ~\~]


Pettakere Cave in Sulawesi


“The ancient Indonesian art was first reported by Dutch archaeologists in the 1950s but had never been dated until now. For decades researchers thought that the cave art was made during the pre-Neolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. "I can say that it was a great -- and very nice -- surprise to read their findings," said Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study. "'Wow!' was my initial reaction to the paper." ~\~

The researchers said they had no preconceived ideas of how old the rock art was when they started on this project about three years ago. They just wanted to know the date for sure. To do that, the team relied on a relatively new technique called U-series dating, which was also used to establish minimum dates of rock art in Western Europe. We have seen a lot of surprises in paleoanthropology over the last 10 years, but this one is among my favorites. - Wil Roebroeks, Leiden University archaeologist

First they scoured the caves for images that had small cauliflower-like growths covering them -- eventually finding 14 suitable works, including 12 hand stencils and two figurative drawings. The small white growths they were looking for are known as cave popcorn, and they are made of mineral deposits that get left in the wake of thin streams of calcium-carbonate-saturated water that run down the walls of a cave. These deposits also have small traces of uranium in them, which decays over time to a daughter product called thorium at a known rate. "The ratio between the two elements acts as a kind of geological clock to date the formation of the calcium carbonate deposits," explained Maxime Aubert of the University of Wollongong in Australia's New South Wales state, the team's dating expert. ~\~

“Using a rotary tool with a diamond blade, Aubert cut into the cave popcorn and extracted small samples that included some of the pigment of the art. The pigment layer of the sample would be at least as old as the first layer of mineral deposit that grew on top of it. Using this method, the researchers determined that one of the hand stencils they sampled was made at least 39,900 years ago and that a painting of an animal known as a pig deer was at least 35,400 years old. In Europe, the oldest known cave painting was of a red disk found in a cave in El Castillo, Spain, that has a minimum age of 40,800 years. The earliest figurative painting, of a rhinoceros, was found in the Chauvet Cave in France; it goes back 38,827 years. ~\~

“The unexpected age of the Indonesian paintings suggests two potential narratives of how humans came to be making art at roughly the same time in these disparate parts of the world, the authors write. It is possible that the urge to make art arose simultaneously but independently among the people who colonized these two regions. Perhaps more intriguing, however, is the possibility that art was already part of an even earlier prehistoric human culture that these two groups brought with them as they migrated to new lands. One narrative the study clearly contradicts: That tens of thousands of years ago prehistoric humans were making art in Europe and nowhere else "The old 'Europe, the birthplace of art' story was a naive one, anyway," said Roebroeks. "We have seen a lot of surprises in paleoanthropology over the last 10 years, but this one is among my favorites." ~\~

Early Humans in Taiwan

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Taiwan — 50,000 years before present — Chihshan Rock Site — Chipped stone tool similar to those of the Changpin culture on the east coast. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In January 2015, a jawbone thought to be from an early hominid species was found in seas off Taiwan. Jiji Press reported: “The mandible, fished up from the Penghu submarine channel, some 25 kilometers off the western shore of Taiwan, has been dated at between 190,000 and 450,000 years old, according to the group, which includes researchers from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Kyoto University and Taiwan's National Museum of Natural Science. [Source: Jiji Press, January 28, 2015 ==]

“The jaw and teeth appear stronger and more primitive than specimens from two other Homo erectus, Java Man and Peking Man. It is also different from Homo floresiensis, the so-called “hobbit” hominid, whose fossilized remains were found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, according to the group. “ ==

In the abstract to an article published in Nature under the title “The first archaic Homo from Taiwan”, Taiwanese and Japanese researchers wrote: Recent studies of an increasing number of hominin fossils highlight regional and chronological diversities of archaic Homo in the Pleistocene of eastern Asia. However, such a realization is still based on limited geographical occurrences mainly from Indonesia, China and Russian Altai. Here we describe a newly discovered archaic Homo mandible from Taiwan (Penghu 1), which further increases the diversity of Pleistocene Asian hominins. Penghu 1 revealed an unexpectedly late survival (younger than 450 but most likely 190–10 thousand years ago) of robust, apparently primitive dentognathic morphology in the periphery of the continent, which is unknown among the penecontemporaneous fossil records from other regions of Asia except for the mid-Middle Pleistocene Homo from Hexian, Eastern China. Such patterns of geographic trait distribution cannot be simply explained by clinal geographic variation of Homo erectus between northern China and Java, and suggests survival of multiple evolutionary lineages among archaic hominins before the arrival of modern humans in the region. [Source: Chun-Hsiang Chang, Yousuke Kaifu, Masanaru Takai,Reiko T. Kono,Rainer Grün, Shuji Matsu’ura, Les Kinsley and Liang-Kong Lin, Nature Communications, January 27, 2015]

Early Man in Japan

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Japan — 47,000 years before present — Lake Nojiri — Genetic research indicates arrival of humans in Japan by 37,000 Years before present. Archeological remains at the Tategahana Paleolithic Site at Lake Nojiri have been dated as early as 47,000 Years before present. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Japan Humans are believed to have first arrived in Japan by around 35,000 to 40,000 years ago, possibly following great herds of animals across land bridges connecting the islands of Japan with the Asian continent but more likely on boats via the chain of islands that link Taiwan, Okinawa and the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Early man is believed to have reached Japan from the Eurasian continent by three routes: 1) from Taiwan to the islands of Okinawa; 2) from Korea to Kyushu; and 3) from Russia to Hokkaido.

Some archaeologists believe that people may have arrived on the Japanese archipelago as far back as 100,000 years ago, during an ice age, when Japan was connected to the Asian mainland by land bridges to the Korean peninsula in the south and the Amur River Delta (between present-day China and Russia) via Sakhalin Island in the north. Fossils of ancient elephants have been found near Nagano but no signs of human habitation have been found from the period in which these elephants lived.

Most scholars believe that the ancestors of modern Japanese arrived in two waves of migrations. There are two theories as to the origin of the first wave. The second wave came from Korea about 2,300 years ago. One theory on the first wave to the main Japanese islands, based on dental morphology, holds these people originated from southeast Asia arrived via Okinawa about 12,000 years ago; a second theory, based on genetic data, suggests they came from northeastern Asia as far back as 40,000 years ago. People most likely came from both places but it is hard to pin down exactly when they arrived and which group was dominant. Some scholars believe that the first arrivals probably came from Siberia around 40,000 year ago, and they were probably hunters who pursued game such as wooly mammoth on Hokkaido, arriving via land bridges that existed between Hokkaido and the Asian mainland and Siberia when sea levels were low. Later, other groups are believed to have moved from Taiwan to Okinawa.

Paleolithic remains in Okinawa indicate that Japanese ancestors were living there by about 30,000 years ago. Human bone fossil and DNA studies show that the group in Okinawa is likely to have traveled from Taiwan. [Source: Jiji Press, February 10, 2016]

According to Japanese sources: Archaeological discoveries have revealed that the ancient people inhabiting the archipelago in the Old Stone (Paleolithic) age lived mainly by hunting and gathering. The New Stone (Neolithic) age, dating from about 10,000 years ago, witnessed the manufacture of refined stone implements, the development of advanced hunting techniques using bows and arrows, and the production of earthenware containers for cooking and storing food. On the basis of archaeological finds, it has been postulated that hominid activity in Japan may date as early as 200,000 B.C., when the islands were connected to the Asian mainland. Although some scholars doubt this early date for habitation, most agree that by around 40,000 B.C. glaciation had reconnected the islands with the mainland. Based on archaeological evidence, they also agree that by between 35,000 and 30,000 B.C. Homo sapiens had migrated to the islands from eastern and southeastern Asia and had well-established patterns of hunting and gathering and stone toolmaking . Stone tools, inhabitation sites, and human fossils from this period have been found throughout all the islands of Japan. More stable living patterns gave rise by around 10,000 B.C. to a Neolithic or, as some scholars argue, Mesolithic culture. Possibly distant ancestors of the Ainu aboriginal people of modern Japan, members of the heterogeneous Jomon culture (ca. 10,000-300 B.C.) left the clearest archaeological record. [Source:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

Earliest Physical Evidence of Early Man in Japan

Remains and tools of early Palaeolithic people in Japan have been found in Okinawa, Kyushu, Shikoku and Shizuoka prefecture in Central Japan. Modern humans may have reached Kyushu via the Korean Peninsula and the Tsushima Strait some 38,000 years ago, according to Yosuke Kaifu, head of the Division of Human Evolution at Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science. There is evidence from Lake Nojiri sites that suggests that large mammals were hunted there by human hunters between 33,000 and 39,000 years ago. There is also evidence that ancient navigators carried obsidian, a volcanic glass used to make tools, to Honshu from Kozushima island of the Izu Island chain about 38,000 years ago. [Source: Makoto Mitsui, Yomiuri Shimbun, February 20, 2015; Jiji Press, February 10, 2016; Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website]

The oldest human skeletal remains — dated to over 30,000 years ago — have found in the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa. The bones of an eight -year-old girl— nicknamed “Yamashita Dojin“— dated to 32,500 years ago were found in Yamashita Daiichi Cave near Naha city on the main island of Okinawa in 1962 Yamashita Daiichi Cave is a semi-cave ruin and because it was used as a grave it escaped destruction in postwar quarrying. [Source: Tom Corrao, Okinawaology Blog, November 4, 2011]

Analysis of the DNA of human bones from Ishigaki island near Okinawa suggest that the residents there were linked to people from southern China or Southeast Asia. The climate of the earth 30,000 years ago was cooling. Sea levels were about 60 meters lower than they are now. Under these conditions, Taiwan and mainland China are were connected by land, but the islands between Taiwan and Japan were separated by sea. Therefore a sea journey would have been necessary to emigrate from Taiwan to the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, September 3, 2016]

There is evidence of human habitation on Minatogawa, an island between Taiwan and Japan, dated to 18,000 years ago. Minatogawa Man refers to the 18,000-year-old fossilized remains, including a nearly complete skull, found in Naha city, Okinawa, of a 155-centimeter-tall man with large teeth, a high, broad and pinched nose and a low and narrow forehead with a prominent browridge. Two of his his teeth had been knocked out — the earliest example a tribal custom found in different parts of the world. Some have said that the Minatogawa Man resembles Liujiang man, a 40,000-year-old fossil from southern China. Other says he looks like Lang-Cuom and Phobinhgia man of North Indochina. Some even go as far as saying he has traits in common with Peking Man, Java Man and Neantherthals. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

The oldest human remains found on the main Japanese island of Honshu belong to Hamakita Man, a skeleton found in a limestone quarry site in Hamakita city, Shizuoka prefecture in central Japan. These fossils were radiocarbon dated to be 17,900 years old. Both Minatogawa man and Hamakita man may be ancestors of the Jomon people (See separate article on them).

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Nature, Scientific American. Live Science, Discover magazine, Discovery News, Ancient Foods ancientfoods.wordpress.com ; Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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