A new discovery may change what the history books say about when early humans left Africa. The discovery was unveiled on Wednesday in an episode of Nature which explored nearly a hundred stone tools found at the Shangchen site in central China. The tools could push back the date that the first humans left Africa by over 250,000 years. The people who made the tools lived at Shangchen on and off for 800,000 between 1.3 and 2.1 million years ago.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/61fe65245c11b57ec0d92546167a8cabcb840149a02a82844e24f18d30bfed45.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Zhaoyu Zhu</span>
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The discovery of the ancient tools, which are 300,000 years older than the 1.8-million-year-old site in the Republic of Georgia known as Dmanisi, is unprecedented outside of Africa. The fossils found at Dmanisi are the oldest known remnants of our extinct cousin Homo erectus. Robin Dennell, a professor at the University of Exeter said, "Finding artifacts that you knew were around two million years old—and therefore the oldest outside Africa—was for me, as a palaeoanthropologist, really exciting."
"More people have climbed Everest than found stone tools that old," Dennell said. Gerrit van den Bergh, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wollongong said, "I've always said that once the Chinese researchers start looking for evidence on a similar scale as all the money spent in Africa, things will turn up! It again shows how little we actually know." Today's modern humans are known as Homo sapiens and trace back to a migratory group that left Africa around 60,000 years ago but now scientists are learning that was hardly the first group to leave the continent. It is also likely that modern humans weren't the only hominins to leave Africa.
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700,000 years ago, Neanderthal's ancestors made the journey through across the South Pacific eventually landing on islands and giving rise to Homo floresiensis, also known as the "hobbit" man for their miniature stature. Researchers in the 1980's discovered stone tools in Pakistan that could be two million years old. Another team of researchers in China found 1.66-million-year-old stone tools in the Nihewan Basin. Researchers in 2015 suggested that a Homo erectus skull found only three miles from Shangchen could be over 1.6 million years old.
Michael Petraglia, a Max Planck Institute paleoanthropologist said, "It is entirely possible that Homo erectus occupied China at this time, but given the age of the site, and the possibility that artifacts may be found at even earlier ages, another member of the genus Homo may be occupying Asia, such as a Homo habilis-like ancestor."
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