Members of the human genus, Homo, left Africa far earlier than thought, reaching what’s now central China by around 2.12 million years ago, a new study finds.
Some stone tools unearthed at China’s Shangchen site date to roughly 250,000 years before what was previously the oldest Eurasian evidence of Homo, say geologist Zhaoyu Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou and his colleagues. Toolmakers visited the Chinese spot on and off until as late as 1.26 million years ago, the scientists report online July 12 in Nature. No hominid fossils have been found at Shangchen.
Until now, the Dmanisi site, in the western Asia nation of Georgia, had yielded the oldest hominid remains outside Africa. Homo erectus fossils unearthed at Dmanisi date to between 1.85 million and 1.77 million years ago (SN: 11/16/13, p. 6).
“An early form of Homo probably made the Shangchen artifacts, but it’s too early to say if that was H. erectus,” says coauthor Robin Dennell, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter in England.