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Indonesian cave reveals earliest evidence of our ancestors

Julien Louys

New analysis of fossils found in Indonesia suggests modern humans may have arrived on the island as early as 73,000 years ago and that they were able to develop technologies sooner than previously thought.

What it means: This is the earliest evidence yet of modern humans living in rainforests and supports recent suggestions that they migrated out of Africa earlier than previously thought. It also suggests they were able to colonize inland, where it requires much more planning and technological innovation to grow food and survive the elements, which some researchers thought individuals at the time weren't advanced enough to do.

The team of researchers re-analyzed two human teeth found in a rainforest cave in the late 19th century and concluded they were from anatomically modern humans who had mastered the necessary tools to survive inland. They were able to use surrounding sediment to date the remains to between 73,000 and 63,000 years old.

Credit: Tanya Smith and Rokus Awe DueCaption: Modern human tooth found in Lida Ajer cave (left top) with its corresponding scanned image (left bottom) compared to an orangutan tooth (right).
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