Oldest Human Bones Found In “The Cave Of The Monkeys”

By on Aug 22, 2012 in Archaelogy, Asia, Science, World Comments
oldest modern human skull

A reconstruction of the human skull
discovered in Tam Pa Ling,
“the Cave of the Monkeys”
in northern Laos.

Image Credit: F.Demeter

The oldest modern human bones found in Southeast Asia were recovered from “The Cave of the Monkeys” in Laos, several science news sites reported on Monday, August 20, 2012.

According to reports, the fossils were discovered in 2009 in Tam Pa Ling, “The Cave of the Monkeys” located at the top of the Pa Hang Mountain 3,840 feet above sea level. The cave was said to be surrounded by lots of papaya and banana trees making monkeys visit the area, therefore getting its name.

Reports also said that there are no other artifacts found with the fossils, which suggests that the cave was not a burial or dwelling site. Laura Shackelford, University of Illinois anthropologist reportedly said that it is more likely that the person died outside and the body washed in the the cave sometime later.

Direct dating technique of the bones using uranium/thorium dating revealed that the fossils have a maximum age of about 63,000 years, making it the earliest skeletal evidence for anatomically modern humans east of the Middle East, reports said.

“This find supports an ‘Out-of-Africa’ theory of modern human origins rather than a multi-regionalism model. 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,” Shackelford was quoted as saying.

Details of the findings were published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal.

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