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10:11, 31 January 2019

Ancient Mongolian skull is the earliest modern human yet found in the region

AKIPRESS.COM - An ancient human skull from Mongolia has been dated and genetically analysed, showing that it is the earliest modern human yet found in the region, according to new research from the University of Oxford.

The study published in Nature Communications used Radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis and revealed that the only Pleistocene hominin fossil discovered in Mongolia, initially called Mongolanthropus, is in reality a modern human who lived approximately 34 - 35 thousand years ago.

The skullcap, found in the Salkhit Valley northeast Mongolia is, to date, the only Pleistocene hominin fossil found in the country.

The skullcap is mostly complete and includes the brow ridges and nasal bones. The presence of archaic or ancient features have led in the past to the specimen being linked with uncharacterized archaic hominin species, such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals. Previous research suggested ages for the specimen ranging from the Early Middle Pleistocene to the terminal Late Pleistocene.

The Oxford team re-dated the specimen to 34,950 – 33,900 years ago. This is around 8,000 years older than the initial radiocarbon dates obtained on the same specimen.

DNA analyses were also performed on the hominin bones by Professor Svante Pääbo’s team at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.


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