US News: Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US NewsNearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China

09:50  05 april  2019
09:50  05 april  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Human ancestors left Africa far earlier than previously thought, discovery of prehistoric jawbone and tools suggest. The find suggests that there were multiple waves of migration across Europe and Asia and could also mean that modern 100, 000 years . Dating of a trove of human teeth found in China .

human teeth discovered in this Southern China site which has revealed that Tongzi's teeth do Between 1972 and 1983, the four teeth were discovered in the Yanhui Cave in Tongzi, Southern Their chronology is between 172,000 and 240 , 000 years old and they were originally identified as late

Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Halamka Scientists are taking a closer look at a set of ancient teeth, first discovered in the 1970s but thought to have originated more than 200,000 years ago, under the suspicion that they could reveal a previously unknown human relative.

The four teeth were first discovered in the Yanhui Cave, located in Southern China's Tongzi county, between 1972 and 1983.

At the time, they were classified as Homo erectus, a primitive human species that could walk upright and dates back 1.8 million years ago.

Now, a team of researchers from the Centro Nacional de Investigacion sobre la Evolucion Humana (CENIEH) believe the teeth could have originated from either Homo erectus or their more advanced counterpart, Neanderthals, or possibly some other mysterious, hybrid group.

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Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Scientists are taking a closer look at a set of ancient teeth, first discovered in the 1970s, under the suspicion that they could reveal a previously unknown human relative

To come to this conclusion, the researchers used modern methods like geometric morphometrical analysis, which primarily examines the change of shape, and Micro-Computed Tomography, or x-ray imaging in 3D.

Researchers said the teeth can be dated back to approximately 172,000 to 240,000 years ago.

Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The teeth were first discovered in the Yanhui Cave, located in Southern China's Tongzi county, between 1972 and 1983. Scientists are unsure just who exactly the teeth belong to As part of their analysis, they compared the Tongzi teeth to hominims from the same chronological period - the later part of the Middle Pleistocene epoch - and the surrounding areas of East Asia, according to the study.

Ancient teeth hint at mysterious human relative

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Four teeth found in a cave in the Tongzi county of southern China have scientists scratching their When Denisovan ancestors ventured into Asia, for example, they could have met the population A variety of other Chinese fossils dating to between 360,000 and 100, 000 years old also don't fit into

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While they looked at many comparative samples, the researchers are unsure just who exactly the teeth belong to.

Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Scientists believe the teeth may be linked to Homo erectus (reconstruction, pictured) or the Neanderthals. However, without more fossilized evidence, they can't really be sure

In an attempt to pinpoint their origin, researchers looked at the structures and patterns of the Tongzi teeth, according to National Geographic.

They also compared the teeth to modern-day tooth samples from East Asia, as well as other regions including West Asia, Africa and Europe.

It proved to be even more puzzling, when they discovered the dentine, or tissue below the enamel, didn't appear to have the same crinkles found in Homo erectus, National Geographic reported.

Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Pictured is Jose Maria Bermudez, one of the co-authors of the CENIEH research

Instead, the teeth had more simple features akin to those in Neanderthals, but they still weren't a perfect match.

Ancient teeth hint at mysterious human relative

Ancient teeth hint at mysterious human relative The find adds to a growing number of fossils from China that don't fit neatly in the existing human family tree.

Some 50, 000 years ago, they interbred with humans expanding from Africa along the coast of South Asia, bequeathing some of their DNA to them. The stocky, barrel-chested Neanderthals left a fossil record stretching from about 240 , 000 to 30, 000 years ago in Europe, the Near East and Russia.

Modern humans may have occupied southern China at least 30, 000 years earlier than previously thought. Archaeologists have found 47 Homo sapiens teeth closely resembling our own, dated from 80,000-120, 000 years old , in a cave in Hunan province, according to a letter published today in Nature.

One possible theory is that the teeth could originate from the Denisovan ancestry, a mysterious hominim population that split off from the Neanderthals about 400,000 years ago.

The teeth had some similarities to tooth fossils from the Denisovans, but they weren't located in the same place in the mouth, making it hard to reach a definite conclusion.

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'An abundant amount of genetic information has been collected from the Denisovans but there are very few fossil remains,' CENIEH explained.

'Therefore, both their physical appearance and their identification in the fossil record remain a mystery.'

Another possibility could be that the teeth came from a hybrid of two different hominims.

Nearly 240,000-year-old ancient teeth could reveal previously unknown human ancestor from Southern China © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The teeth are thought to have originated as far back as 172,000 to 240,000 years ago. They were found in the Yanhui Cave, in China's Tongzi country in Guizhou Province (pictured) For example, if the Denisovans crossed paths with Homo erectus, they could have interbred to create the group that produced this particular teeth sample, National Geographic noted.

Until they can get their hands on more fossilized evidence, the origination of the teeth remains unclear, however.

'More genetic and fossil discoveries would be necessary to evaluate the taxonomy of the non-erectus populations of the Middle Pleistocene, such as the Tongzi hominids, which could be good candidates for the Denisovan ancestry,' said Maria Martinon-Torres, one of the co-authors of the study.

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