Skull pushes back clock on early human migration

An ancient skull discovered in a cave in Laos has pushed back the clock on human migration to Southeast Asia by as much as 20,000 years, a study has found.

Fragments from a skull recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos are the oldest modern human fossils found in Southeast Asia. The ancient skull has pushed back the clock on human migration to Southeast Asia by as much as 20,000 years, a study has found

The skull discovered in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos is the oldest modern human fossil found in Southeast Asia and is believed to be between 46,000 and 63,000 years old.

The find also reveals that early humans did not simply follow the Asian coast as they migrated from Africa to Australia, as some researchers have argued, but that some also moved inland into unfamiliar terrain.

“This fossil find indicates that the migration out of Africa and into East and Southeast Asia occurred at a relatively rapid rate, and that, once there, modern humans weren’t limited to environments that they had previously experienced,” said co-author Laura Shackelford, an anthropologist with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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