During the recent excavation at Fuyan Cave, Doaxian in southern China the researchers found 47 preserved teeth that closely resemble the dental gear of modern humans, and could be somewhere between 80,000 to 120,000 years old. Studies of these fossils has revealed that modern humans first settled in southern China, not Europe or Middle East as has been previously believed.
The researchers wrote, "Our study shows that fully modern morphologies were present in southern China 30,000-70,000 years earlier than in the Levant and Europe. Our data fill a chronological and geographical gap that is relevant for understanding when H. sapiens first appeared in southern Asia."
The team also discovered the remains of some 38 mammals, including specimens of five extinct species. While these findings suggest butchering, the research team did not find presence of any stone tools so far.
Co-author of the study Maria Martinon-Torres from University College London said, "The model that is generally accepted is that modern humans left Africa only 50,000 years ago. In this case, we are saying the Homo sapiens is out of Africa much earlier."
The study said, "Notably, although fully modern humans were already present in southern China at least as early as approximately 80,000 years ago, there is no evidence that they entered Europe before approximately 45,000 years ago. This could indicate that Homo neanderthalensis was indeed an additional ecological barrier for modern humans, who could only enter Europe when the demise of Neanderthals had already started."
The study is published in Nature