Tech UPTechnologyThe oldest remains of hominids outside of Africa found...

The oldest remains of hominids outside of Africa found in China

Again, we must rewrite our history. It is not the first time that we have found findings that suggest that our ancestors left Africa much earlier than we thought.

Until now, the oldest hominid remains found outside the African continent dated between 1.85 million and 1.77 million years ago in western Asia (at the site of Dmanisi, in the nation of Georgia).

But exciting new findings now place the first hominids outside of Africa long before then: Our earliest ancestors colonized East Asia more than 2 million years ago.

It is a site with tools and bones found by a Chinese team led by Professor Zhaoyu Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with Professor Robin Dennell of the University of Exeter, in a town called Shangchen on the southern Loess Plateau in China. The oldest are 2.12 million years old, 270,000 years older than the previous most ancient evidence of humanity outside of Africa.

According to Professor Dennell: “This discovery implies that it is necessary to reconsider when the first humans left Africa.”

Stone tools from the Chinese site called Shangchen were made just over 2 million years ago, the oldest known remains of hominids outside of Africa. The remains and tools from the Dmanisi site in Georgia, dating to about 1.8 million years ago, were, so far, the oldest evidence of hominid migrants outside of Africa.

In the image, Myr = millions of years.

The 80 stone utensils were found predominantly in 11 different layers of fossil soils that developed in a hot and humid climate. Another 16 items were found in six layers that were developed in cooler and drier conditions.

These different layers of fossil soils were formed over a period spanning almost 1 million years, showing that the earliest types of humans occupied the Chinese Loess Plateau under different climatic conditions about 2 million years ago.

How do scientists date such ancient evidence? Thanks to the magnetic properties of the earth’s layers that contained these tools.


Zhaoyu Zhu. ‘Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateasince about 2.1 million years ago’. Nature (11, July, 2018). Doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05293-9.

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