Scientists now say that they have discovered earliest evidence of human existence outside Africa. The ancient tools were found on a Northern China plateau – Shangchen. The tools indicate that there was presence of primitive humans about 2.12 million years ago in the region.
The ancient tools are about 270,000 years older than the bones and tools found in Dmanisi in Georgia. The research which was conducted by a Chinese-British team was published in the Journal Nature.
All the discovered tools were made of stones such as quartzite and quartz rock which were probably picked at the foothills of Qinling Mountains. The tools were built for different purposes and they all depict signs of having been used. However, the scientists are yet to identify the human species that made them.
The discovery matters since there has not been any earlier evidence of human presence in Eurasia until 1.8 million years ago with the Dmanisi evidence. Robin Donnell, from the University of Exeter says that the discovery is crucial in estimating the time when early humans left Africa.
Ordinarily, Africa is always considered the engine of human evolution; it is where all significant species originated from before spreading to other parts of the world due to different reasons. However, some scientists are proposing a new twist in this story. With the discovery of the ancient tools, the researchers can only wonder about the missing bits of the human story in Asia.
John Kappelman, a paleoanthropologist, comments that the estimated 14,000-kilometre trek from eastern Africa all the way to eastern Asia is a representation of dramatic proportions of expansion. He adds that there was facilitation of the hominids dispersal by population increase which compelled them to move into new territories and occupy the empty niches.
The changing climate contributed to the discovery of the ancient tools since eighty artefacts were located in fossil soil that developed in a climate that is wet and warm. Similarly, an additional sixteen tools were unearthed in fossil soil that developed when it was cold and dry.
The new findings suggest that early human firms managed to survive in Loess Plateau located in Northern China under a wide range of climatic conditions. Dr Kappelman, from the University of Texas says that the dispersal of hominids may have happened under the varying climates of the Pleistocene ice age. He also notes that the hominid population may have grown in population or dwindled based on the climate because they did not maintain a continuous occupation of the Loess Plateau.