Credit: Fabrice Demeter.
An ancient human skull and a jawbone found a few meters away in a cave in northern Laos add to the evidence that early modern humans were physically quite diverse, researchers report in PLOS ONE.
The skull, found in 2009 in a cave known as Tam Pa Link in the Annamite Mountains of present-day Laos, and reported in 2012 in the Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences, is the oldest modern human fossil found in Southeast Asia. Its discovery pushed back the date of modern human migration through the region by as much as 20,000 years. It revealed that early humans who migrated to the islands and coasts of Southeast Asia after migrating out of Africa also traveled inland much earlier than previously though, some 46,000 to 63,000 years ago.
The jaw was discovered in late 2010 and is roughly the same age as the skull. Unlike the skull, it has both modern and archaic human traits.