Studies show that hominids had occupied Asia for 2 million years
It is amazing to imagine that 2 million years ago hominids very similar to us were already walking around. This was the beginning of human occupation on Earth, which after several changes in society, made possible the existence of the 7 billion inhabitants today.
Until then, the earliest evidence of H. erectus 's presence outside Africa dates back to 1.85 million years, shortly after the species appeared on that continent. Now, the discovery of new fossils in a Chinese archaeological site has hinted that perhaps this initial step was a little earlier than imagined.
Next stop: China
At the archaeological site of Shangchen, which is 1, 200 kilometers from Beijing, 96 stone ends and bases were found. The tools were used to cut or open bones of animals, including pigs, deer and antelopes.
Determining the period in which the tools were used has become a challenge as the region is poor in volcanic minerals, which contain the most commonly used isotopes in radiometric dating. Despite this misfortune, the data managed to be analyzed by the same team that found the material, led by geologist Zhaoyu Zhu of the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry.
In the absence of a suitable isotope for the use of the most common method, the researchers applied the paleomagnetic dating technique. It consists of detecting the reverse magnetic field, which is recorded in the material, reaching the conclusion that the objects are between 1.6 and 2.1 million years old. This indicates that hominids inhabited the region 250 million years earlier than previously known.
Another interesting fact, considering the new discovery, was raised by archaeologist Will Roebroeks of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, who was not part of the group that discovered the tools. He said the Shangchen area is at the same latitude as Kabul in Afghanistan, a region where climatic conditions fluctuate from a hot, humid climate to a dry cold during the year.
Even with brains not as developed as ours, shorter legs and less advanced tools, they survived in a region where the weather didn't help at all. Although their identity is still a mystery, the fact raises the possibility that H. erectus was not the first hominid to leave Africa. Chinese and Georgian scholars have recently shown that a more primitive species of hominids would have left Africa for later emergence of H. erectus in Asia.
The new findings, which indicate the presence of hominids in China long before H. erectus appeared in Africa, provide further arguments for the version that the species even developed in Asia.
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