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2013 Smart Guide: Searching for human origins in Asia

2013 Smart Guide: Searching for human origins in Asia

New Scientist

Image: Tadias Magazine

Move over Africa. It is where humanity began, where we took our first steps and grew big brains. But those interested in the latest cool stuff on the origins of our species should look to Asia instead.

Why so? It looks as if some early chapters in the human story, and significant chunks of its later ones too, took place under Asian skies.

For starters, 37-million-year-old fossils from Burma are the best evidence yet that our branch of the primate tree originated in Asia rather than Africa.

A great deal later, after the emergence of early humans from Africa, some of our distant cousins set up shop in Asia, only to die out later. In 2012 anthropologists described for the first time human fossils unlike any others – ancient hominins dubbed the Red Deer Cave People who lived in what is now China as recently as 15,000 years ago, then vanished without further trace. The implication is that more long-lost cousins remain to be found in South-East Asia’s neglected fossil record. Read more on…