H. sapiens spread more rapidly from eastern Africa to South Asia and interbred with Neanderthal-related hominids, according to a team of anthropologists, investigating skulls found in a cave in Laos. In 2010, evidence for 50,000 years of H. sapiens’ habitation in Asia was found in a cave in Siberia. The Laotian evidence might push that event horizon to 63,000 years.
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.
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