Dushan 1 skeleton offers new perspectives on the settlement of Homo sapiens in China

Date:

Share post:

A paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports on the skeletal remains found in Dushan Cave, in Linfeng, southern China, has revealed dental characteristics which are surprising for an Upper Paleolithic population. To find these traits, it is very often necessary to go back to the earliest representatives of the genus Homo and even to Australopithecus.

Dushan 1 skeleton offers new perspectives on the settlement of Homo sapiens in China
Dushan 1 dentition [Credit: CENIEH]

The participants in this study include María Martinón Torres and José María Bermúdez de Castro, of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), who explain that: “It isn’t that these traits have disappeared completely from modern populations in China, but rather that their presence together in the individual known as Dushan 1 confers a certain primitive aspect on their dentition”.

There exists the possibility that Dushan 1, whose remains have been dated to between 15,280 and 12,765 years old, represents the normal variability within a little-known population in a vast territory. It would be possible to test this hypothesis with new studies of populations from the same period.




“Perhaps we find here a case of prolonged isolation of a group within a certain territory, in which primitive characteristics of the first representatives of Homo sapiens in China have been retained”, remarks Bermúdez de Castro.

Finally, interbreeding of the first Homo sapiens with resident ancestral groups is another possible explanation. The descendants of this hybridization would have survived until the end of the Pleistocene, showing in their dental apparatus the evidence of a highly particular evolutionary history.




The variability among the Pleistocene humans of China is less well known than that of Africans and Europeans. Nevertheless, the balance is shifting little by little. The oldest fossils are becoming better known, and their interpretation has already been covered by the general models. It may be that the greatest problem lies in studying the more recent populations from the end of the Pleistocene, as these have held less interest for international experts.

“The skeleton of Dushan 1 makes it very possible that we will start to show more interest in this little-known epoch of the Chinese Pleistocene. We are aware that there remains much to be learned about the peculiar dynamic of the populations of our species, which moved out of Africa to colonize the whole planet”, concludes Martinón Torres.

Source: CENIEH [February 20, 2019]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Humans and Neanderthals: Less different than polar and brown bears

Ancient humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans were genetically closer than polar bears and brown bears, and so, like the...

Agriculture, dietary changes, and adaptations in fat metabolism from ancient to modern Europeans

Good vs bad cholesterol. Margarine vs butter. Red meat vs. vegan. The causal links between fats and health...

Greek crisis: what would the ancients say?

More than 200 international philosophers braved strikes and protests to come to Greece this month to join a...

The (un)likely link between environment and languages

Environmental factors condition the distribution of plant and animal species, but to what extent do they impact human...

How languages are built

A team of Cambridge linguists has embarked on an ambitious project to identify how the languages of the...

DNA-based study reconstructs face of Japanese woman from 3,800 years ago

Researchers for the first time reconstructed the head of a woman from the Jomon Pottery Culture period (c....

Understanding emotions without language

Does understanding emotions depend on the language we speak, or is our perception the same regardless of language...

Widely used reference for the human genome is missing 300 million bits of DNA

For the past 17 years, most scientists around the globe have been using the nucleic acid sequence, or...