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Thread: Tools 2.1 million years old at China dig suggest human relatives left Africa earlier103 days old

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    BUILD THAT WALL ~Elizabeth~'s Avatar
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    Lightbulb Tools 2.1 million years old at China dig suggest human relatives left Africa earlier

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/20...frica-earlier/


    Scientists examine a pointed piece of quartzite rock that was unearthed from the oldest layer of dirt at a site in the Loess Plateau in China last December. In a report released on Wednesday, scientists believe stone tools like this could have belonged to our evolutionary forerunners who lived 2.1 million years ago. | ZHAOYU ZHU / VIA AP


    A stone flake that was found in an archaeological site in the Loess Plateau in China is seen in February | ZHAOYU ZHU / VIA AP

    NEW YORK – Stone tools recovered from an excavation in China suggest that our evolutionary forerunners trekked out of Africa earlier than we thought.

    Until now, the oldest evidence of human-like creatures outside Africa came from 1.8 million-year-old artifacts and skulls found in the Georgian town of Dmanisi. But the new find pushes that back by at least 250,000 years.

    “It’s absolutely a new story,” said archaeologist Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, who did not participate in the study. “It means that early humans were getting out of Africa way earlier than we ever realized.”

    That exit came long before our own species, Homo sapiens, even appeared. The researchers believe the tools were made by another member of the Homo evolutionary group.

    The items included several chipped rocks, fragments and hammer stones. The 96 artifacts were dug up in an area known as the Loess Plateau, north of the Qinling mountains, which divide the north and south of China.

    Some of them were as old as 2.1 million years, according to the study in Wednesday’s journal Nature.

    “We were very excited,” said Zhaoyu Zhu, a professor at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, who led the field work. “One of my colleagues suddenly noticed a stone embedded in a steep outcrop. After a short while, more artifacts were found — one after another.”

    The tools were distributed throughout layers of dirt, suggesting our unidentified ancient relatives came back to the same site over and over, possibly following animals to hunt. Researchers also found bones of pigs and deer, but were not able to provide proof that the tools were used for hunting.

    Some experts not involved in the research think that the findings need to be taken with caution.

    “I am skeptical,” said Geoffrey Pope, an anthropologist from William Paterson University in New Jersey. “I suspect this discovery will change very little.”

    The problem, he said, is that sometimes nature can shape stones in a way that they look as if they were manufactured by hand. Scientists know, for example, that rocks smashed together in a stream can acquire sharp edges.

    But Sonia Harmand, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University in New York, disagrees.

    “This could be, frankly, one of the most important (archaeological) sites in the world,” said Harmand, who studies stone tools.
    I thought this was interesting and wanted to share. I wonder if this is really man-made. Did the people who make these tools live at the same time as the Denisovians? Did they mix with the homo sapiens sapiens that later came out of Africa? Were these made by the Chinese's earliest ancestors?

    What do you think about this?

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    I found another source with more information, so I'll make a new post instead of editing the first post.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/s...oanthropology/
    Oldest Tools Outside Africa Found, Rewriting Human Story
    New evidence suggests that our ancient cousins left the continent much earlier than thought.


    Some of the stone artifacts from Shangchen's oldest sediment layers.


    Modern humans' distant relatives left Africa earlier than previously thought—rewriting a key chapter in humankind's epic prequel, according to a discovery unveiled on Wednesday in Nature.

    Nearly a hundred stone tools found at the Shangchen site in central China may push back the spread of our ancient cousins—hominins—out of Africa by more than a quarter million years.

    The toolmakers lived at Shangchen on and off for 800,000 years between 2.1 and 1.3 million years ago, leaving behind tools that are unprecedented outside of Africa. The site's oldest tools are roughly 300,000 years older than Dmanisi, a 1.8-million-year-old site in the Republic of Georgia with the oldest known fossils of our extinct cousin Homo erectus.



    “Finding artifacts that you knew were around two million years old—and therefore the oldest outside Africa—was for me, as a palaeoanthropologist, really exciting,” says study coauthor Robin Dennell, a professor at the University of Exeter.

    “More people have climbed Everest than found stone tools that old.”

    “I’ve always said that once the Chinese researchers start looking for evidence on a similar scale as all the money spent in Africa, things will turn up!” exclaims Gerrit van den Bergh, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wollongong who wasn't involved with the study.

    “It again shows how little we actually know.”


    Early Wanderers

    Today's modern humans, Homo sapiens, trace back to a migratory pulse that left Africa some 60,000 years ago. But that migration was hardly the first to leave the continent—nor were modern humans the only hominins to make the trip. Remains of Homo erectus have been found from Georgia to Java. Neanderthals' ancestors trekked to Europe roughly half a million years ago. At least 700,000 years ago, early hominins somehow swept through the South Pacific, giving rise to the “hobbit” Homo floresiensis and other island toolmakers.



    Some sites have hinted at an even older hominin presence in Asia. In the 1980s, researchers suggested that stone tools in Pakistan could be as old as two million years old. In 2004, a Chinese team found 1.66-million-year-old stone tools in north China's Nihewan basin. And in 2015, researchers made the case that a Homo erectus skull found less than three miles from Shangchen was more than 1.6 million years old.

    Convinced that China had even older sites, Zhaoyu Zhu, the new study's lead author and a geologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, started digging at Shangchen in 2004.

    In July 2007, one of Zhu's colleagues at the site noticed a stone in a steep outcrop—which turned out to be a hominin-modified tool. By 2017, Zhu's team had uncovered a 240-foot-thick sequence of soil at Shangchen, with 17 layers bearing stone tools.



    “My colleagues and I were all very excited,” says Zhu. “This sequence is too massive and spectacular.”

    But precisely when were the tools made? To find out, Zhu's team measured the varying magnetic fields in the tool-bearing soil layers.

    As each layer formed, minerals within the soil preserved the orientation of Earth's magnetic field at the time. Because Earth's magnetic field sometimes reverses polarity, some of the layers' fields flipped in kind—as did the magnetic fields of similarly aged sediments all over Earth.

    By comparing Shangchen's sediments to well-dated African soils that preserved the same magnetic reversals, Zhu could accurately assign ages to each Shangchen layer. Six of the 96 tools discussed in the study were found in a layer dating back 2.12 million years.


    Who Made the Tools?

    Since there aren't hominin fossils alongside Shangchen's tools, nobody knows for sure who made them.

    Homo erectus, the toolmakers at Dmanisi, may have been responsible. The hominin species made stone tools, and it had the sort of build and walking gait needed to cross continents. But the species's oldest known fossils are about 1.8 million years old—much younger than Shangchen's oldest tools.



    “It is entirely possible that Homo erectus occupied China at this time, but given the age of the site, and the possibility that artifacts may be found at even earlier ages, another member of the genus Homo may be occupying Asia, such as a Homo habilis-like ancestor,” says Michael Petraglia, a Max Planck Institute paleoanthropologist who studies ancient tools from Asia.

    María Martinón-Torres, the director of Spain's National Center of the Study of Human Evolution (CENIEH) and a world authority on Asian hominin fossils, says that even some Chinese hominin fossils once labeled as H. erectus are worth a second look.

    “It is time to accept that not all hominins found in Asia fit in the Asian H. erectus taxon, a species that has been largely employed as a blanket term,” she says. “I think that the question about the first Asian hominin identity is not closed yet.”

    Regardless, Shangchen's toolmakers would have had brains about a third the size of our own. While brain size isn't everything, experts say that it's astounding that such early, small-brained humans made it from Africa to China some two million years ago.

    Future work will shed light on who these mysterious hominins were. Dennell says that he'd love to look at sediments older than 2.1 million years, which they couldn't readily do at Shangchen because farms now cover them. Elsewhere in Asia, more stunning finds are all but guaranteed.

    “For a long time [the] scientific community has given a secondary role to Asia versus Africa in explaining relevant episodes of our evolution,” says Martinón-Torres. “With more fieldwork at Asia I am sure that more surprises are to come.”

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    I wish it was more obvious that they're tools. I guess they can tell that they've been worked on or something?
    The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself.
    The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaM View Post
    I wish it was more obvious that they're tools. I guess they can tell that they've been worked on or something?
    Hi JaM,

    I think this looks like a man-made tool. It's 2.1 million years old, found in China. What do you think?



    I had posted it in my original post but the original link is broken, so I went back and saved it in "paint", and then my laptop's "pictures" folder, and uploaded to postimage.org.


    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/20...frica-earlier/

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    Is that quarts? Normally stone age tools are made using materials which can be knapped, such as flint or glass type materials like obsidian.
    The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself.
    The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

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    ~Elizabeth~ (2018-08-04)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaM View Post
    Is that quarts? Normally stone age tools are made using materials which can be knapped, such as flint or glass type materials like obsidian.
    Yes, I think it's quartzite rock. That's what it said in the article. Thanks for replying.

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    Ok, quartzite can be knapped.
    The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself.
    The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to JaM For This Useful Post:

    ~Elizabeth~ (2018-08-05)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaroM View Post
    It is possible but we are not descended from those who left Africa so early.
    Thank you for replying to this thread. Welcome to ABF forum.

    I wonder where they came from. Did they originate in Africa and travel to China? Or were they from China? Did they mix with Denisovans or other unknown human relatives? What other hominids or human relatives were in the area but are still undiscovered? I am just wondering out loud. I don't expect anyone to answer my questions.

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