Neanderthals inhabited China before arrival of modern humans: Study

The Neanderthals inhabited China before arrival of modern humans: study

A fresh analysis of two skulls found in central China back in 2007 and 2014 has shed light on the ancient humans who inhabited the region before the arrival of modern humans.

While the Neanderthals’ existence in Europe and western Asia before the arrival of Homo sapiens has long been known to scientists, knowledge of equivalent populations of the Neanderthals in East and Central Asia has been scarce.

However, the two 100,000-year-old skulls unearthed at an excavation site in Xuchang, central China, have shed more light on the relationship between the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in the region.

Prof. Erik Trinkaus, a co-author of the study, said, “There’s a certain amount of regional diversity at this time, but also there are trends in basic biology that are shared by everybody. And the supposed Neanderthal characteristics show that all these populations were interconnected.”

However, the study published in the journal Science, could not determine if the ancient partial skulls are also linked to the ancient mysterious human group Denisovans.

Homo sapiens originated in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago and gradually expanded out across Europe, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. While spreading across the world, they kept on displacing other human groups they encountered, including the Neanderthals. However, some limited interbreeding also occurred.

“Eastern Asian late archaic humans have been interpreted to resemble their Neanderthal contemporaries to some degree,” Xiujie Wu. “Yet it is only with the discovery of two human crania, that the nature of these eastern Eurasian early Late Pleistocene archaic humans is becoming clear.”

A report published by Washington Post informed, "Excavators dug up the skull cap fragments in 2007 and 2014, in Lingjing, located in China’s Henan province. The diggers discovered two partial skulls in a site thought to be inhabited 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, during an epoch called the Pleistocene."

The research team informed...

Two early Late Pleistocene (~105,000- to 125,000-year-old) crania from Lingjing, Xuchang, China, exhibit a morphological mosaic with differences from and similarities to their western contemporaries. They share pan–Old World trends in encephalization and in supraorbital, neurocranial vault, and nuchal gracilization. They reflect eastern Eurasian ancestry in having low, sagittally flat, and inferiorly broad neurocrania. They share occipital (suprainiac and nuchal torus) and temporal labyrinthine (semicircular canal) morphology with the Neandertals. This morphological combination reflects Pleistocene human evolutionary patterns in general biology, as well as both regional continuity and interregional population dynamics.