New evidence challenges "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins
Chinese archaeologists said newly found evidence proves that a valley of
Qingjiang River, a tributary on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, might
be one of the regions where Homo sapiens, or modern man, originated.
finding challenges the "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins,
according to which about 100,000 years ago modern humans originated in Africa,
migrated to other continents, and replaced populations of archaic humans across
The finding comes from a large-scale excavation launched in the
Qingjiang River Valley in 1980s when construction began on a range of hydropower
stations on the Qingjiang River, a fellow researcher with the Hubei Provincial
Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
Archaeologists discovered three
human tooth fossils in one mountain cave in Mazhaping Village, in the Gaoping
Township of Jianshi County, western Hubei Province, and found pieces of lithic
technology and evidence of fire usage in Minor Cave in Banxia. There were
similar findings in Nianyu Mountain and in Zhadong Cave in Banxia, all in
Changyang Prefecture of the Qiangjiang River Valley.
A special research panel
named the Jianshi Man research team has been set up to analyze the
Zheng Shaohua, a member of the Jianshi man research team from the
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, confirmed the tooth fossils belonged to humans dating back
between 2.15 and 1.95 million years ago.
The archaeologists also found
fossils of bone implements in the cultural strata at the ruins where the human
tooth fossils were discovered.
The fossilized bone implements bear traces of
human beating, testifying that humans, not apes, lived inside the mountain cave,
said Qiu Zhanxiang, another member on the Jianshi Man research team.
pieces of lithic technology and traces of human fire usage found in Minor Cave
in Banxia were said to date back 130,000 years, the ruins of human fire usage in
Nianyu Mountain were dated as 120, 000 years or 90,000 years old, while pieces
of lithic technology and traces of fire usage found in Zhadong Cave in Banxia,
were dated as 27,000 years old, said Professor Zheng.
Before these latest
archaeological findings, Chinese archaeologists had found fossils of what is now
known as Changyang Man in 1957 under the leadership of renowned Chinese
paleoanthropologist Jia Lanpo. Changyang Man represents early Homo sapiens
dating back 200,000 years.
The latest archaeological findings together with
the earlier discovery of Changyang Man all prove there was continuity in Homo
sapiens' development in China, said Liu Qingzhu, head of the Archaeology
Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"They are also of great
significance to research on Paleolithic era in China and East Asia, and theories
regarding multiple origins of mankind," said Liu.