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86,000 Year Old Fossil Bones Were Discovered in a Laotian Cave

By: April Carson



Archaeologists found 70,000-year-old human bone fragments in the Tam Pà Ling cave, also known as the Cave of the Monkeys, located on a northern Laos mountain at an altitude of 3,840 feet (1,170 meters). This discovery encouraged further excavation of the site. The team of researchers uncovered an astonishing array of fossils, including animal bones and stone tools. They were surprised to find that some of the items dated back 86,000 years.


The team discovered two new bones- a skull fragment and a shin bone. These bones were most probably brought into the Tam Pà Ling cave by a monsoon. Although they were broken and not complete, the researchers compared their shape and size with the bones of early humans. They concluded that the bones were more similar to those of Homo sapiens rather than other archaic humans like Homo erectus, Neandertals or Denisovans.


The discovery of the human bones in Tam Pà Ling cave is important because it provides us with valuable insight into the history of early humans in Southeast Asia. The fact that the bones are 86,000 years old indicates that humans were living and migrating through this area much earlier than previously thought.


To determine the age of the human remains, the researchers used two dating techniques on materials found nearby. One technique, called luminescence dating, measures when materials like stones were last exposed to sunlight or heat. The other, called U-series dating, measures the decay of uranium into other elements over time. Based on these methods, they estimated that the skull is up to 73,000 years old and the shin bone dates back as far as 86,000 years ago.



The findings suggest that humans living in Southeast Asia were much more diverse and mobile than previously thought. It also offers a window into the lives of ancient humans. The researchers believe that Tam Pà Ling may have served as an important trade route linking northern Laos with other areas in Southeast Asia.


The discovery of this early date is notable as there has been ongoing debate among researchers about when Homo sapiens first migrated to Asia.


According to Fabrice Demeter, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Copenhagen and the lead author of the study, there was very little anthropological research conducted in Laos after World War II. "We now have evidence that is filling this major gap in human migration," said Demeter. The team of researchers hopes to further explore the site and uncover more significant findings.


For many years, researchers have been discussing the possibility of human colonization in Southeast Asia to determine when and how humans arrived in Australia by crossing straits and seas. Tam Pà Ling is an excellent location to explore migration questions because mainland Southeast Asia serves as a link between East Asia and the islands of Southeast Asia and Australia. With the discovery of the 86,000-year-old human bones, researchers have an exciting opportunity to gain a better understanding of ancient civilizations in Southeast Asia.


The available evidence from genetics and ancient stone tools strongly suggests that Homo sapiens rapidly dispersed from Africa in a single migration event that occurred after 60,000 years ago. However, recent studies such as this one provide evidence for earlier migration attempts, some of which may not have been successful. "This discovery underscores the important role that climate change, sea level fluctuations and tectonic shifts have had in human evolution," said Demeter.


According to Michael B.C. Rivera, a biological anthropologist at the University of Hong Kong who was not associated with the research, it is likely that this particular group migrated to Southeast Asia but perished before they could pass on their genes to modern humans. He also emphasized the importance of understanding the stories of unsuccessful populations alongside successful ones to broaden our knowledge. "This is an important reminder that the archaeology of Southeast Asia needs to be studied more thoroughly," he said.


The team's work highlights how important it is to continue archaeological excavations in Southeast Asia and other places around the globe. The researchers hope that this discovery will encourage more exploration of the region, as there is still much to be learned about our ancient history.


Archaeologists have not found any evidence of stone tools or other clues about the lifestyle of humans in Tam Pà Ling. However, many experts in the prehistory of Asia have believed that ancient humans were capable of reaching and populating remote parts of the world via sea crossings, even before 65,000 years ago. Rivera highlighted this idea. "This discovery reinforces the idea that humans were willing to explore and adapted to living in remote environments," he said. "We can learn a lot from them about human resilience and capability."


The journal Nature Communications published the findings on June 13th.












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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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