Humans migrated to Mongolia much earlier than previously believed

Humans migrated to Mongolia much earlier than previously believed
Ancient tools were found in a site in the western flank of the Tolbor Valley. Credit: Courtesy photo

Stone tools uncovered in Mongolia by an international team of archaeologists indicate that modern humans traveled across the Eurasian steppe about 45,000 years ago, according to a new University of California, Davis, study. The date is about 10,000 years earlier than archaeologists previously believed.

The site also points to a new location for where may have first encountered their mysterious cousins, the now extinct Denisovans, said Nicolas Zwyns, an associate professor of anthropology and lead author of the study.

Zwyns led excavations from 2011 to 2016 at the Tolbor-16 site along the Tolbor River in the Northern Hangai Mountains between Siberia and northern Mongolia.

The excavations yielded thousands of stone artifacts, with 826 stone artifacts associated with the oldest human occupation at the site. With long and regular blades, the tools resemble those found at other sites in Siberia and Northwest China—indicating a large-scale dispersal of humans across the region, Zwyns said.

"These objects existed before, in Siberia, but not to such a degree of standardization," Zwyns said. "The most intriguing (aspect) is that they are produced in a complicated yet systematic way—and that seems to be the signature of a human group that shares a common technical and cultural background."

That technology, known in the region as the Initial Upper Palaeolithic, led the researchers to rule out Neanderthals or Denisovans as the site's occupants. "Although we found no at the site, the dates we obtained match the age of the earliest Homo sapiens found in Siberia," Zwyns said. "After carefully considering other options, we suggest that this change in technology illustrates movements of Homo sapiens in the region."

Their findings were published online in an article in Scientific Reports.

The age of the site—determined by luminescence dating on the sediment and radiocarbon dating of animal bones found near the tools—is about 10,000 years earlier than the fossil of a human skullcap from Mongolia, and roughly 15,000 years after modern humans left Africa.

Humans migrated to Mongolia much earlier than previously believed
A sampling of stone tools uncovered at the Tolbor-16 site in Mongolia, with examples of long triangular (bottom row, left) and double-edged blades (bottom row, middle) that resemble those found at other sites in Siberia and Northwest China. The discovery suggests a dispersal through the region of early modern humans who shared a cultural and technological background. The shorter blades, top row, are examples of tool technology known before to researchers. Credit: Courtesy photo

Evidence of soil development (grass and other ) associated with the stone tools suggests that the climate for a period became warmer and wetter, making the normally cold and dry region more hospitable to grazing animals and humans.

Preliminary analysis identifies bone fragments at the site as large (wild cattle or bison) and medium size bovids (wild sheep, goat) and horses, which frequented the open steppe, forests and tundra during the Pleistocene—another sign of human occupation at the site.

The dates for the also match the age estimates obtained from genetic data for the earliest encounter between Homo sapiens and the Denisovans.

"Although we don't know yet where the meeting happened, it seems that the Denisovans passed along genes that will later help Homo sapiens settling down in high altitude and to survive hypoxia on the Tibetan Plateau," Zwyns said. "From this point of view, the site of Tolbor-16 is an important archaeological link connecting Siberia with Northwest China on a route where Homo sapiens had multiple possibilities to meet local populations such as the Denisovans."


Explore further

Ancient molar points to interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia

More information: Nicolas Zwyns et al. The Northern Route for Human dispersal in Central and Northeast Asia: New evidence from the site of Tolbor-16, Mongolia, Scientific Reports (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-47972-1
Journal information: Scientific Reports

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Citation: Humans migrated to Mongolia much earlier than previously believed (2019, August 16) retrieved 19 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-humans-migrated-mongolia-earlier-previously.html
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Aug 17, 2019
Asians are Denisovan cousins, Europeans are Neanderthal cousins, and Africans are pure Homo Sapien. I know they are working on the Denisovan/Neanderthal split, but will not hold my breath for the answer.
But, eventually, it will be known. Curious folks us humans, we will find out.

Aug 17, 2019
https://www.theat.../564896/

ya'll boffins are missing a couple of million years.


Aug 17, 2019
Asians are Denisovan cousins, Europeans are Neanderthal cousins, and Africans are pure Homo Sapien. I know they are working on the Denisovan/Neanderthal split, but will not hold my breath for the answer.
But, eventually, it will be known. Curious folks us humans, we will find out.


actually none of this is correct. see the recent Neanderthal genetic conference.

https://www.youtu...nference

Aug 17, 2019
@shootie doesn't know the difference between Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Snicker.

Aug 18, 2019
Ha, we all know "Dog" created the earth 6,000 years ago, then the rest of the Universe. Let it be so, makes life and "understanding" nature more easy, and it gives hope that "Dog" will come and save the earth, because he loves us dearly!

Aug 18, 2019
Not a huge advancement, but helpful to understand genetic flow.

Speaking of which:

Asians are Denisovan cousins, Europeans are Neanderthal cousins, and Africans are pure Homo Sapien. I know they are working on the Denisovan/Neanderthal split, but will not hold my breath for the answer.


The biological term is sister group vs the rest, and the combined Denisovan/Neanderthal split, which happened ~ 0.5 Myrs ago are between themselves sisters. Our lineage - Africans, Asians, Australians, Europeans, Americans - can be denoted Africans, since our lineage matured there. There are data proposing that we had a sister group relative in Africa; in any case we all - perhaps most often denoted H, sapiens (w/o subspecies) - crossbred and the surviving result (with scant alleles from extinct relatives) are us: https://genomebio...9-1684-5 fig. 4.

Not sure what you mean with working on the D/N split, see the link above for tree and date.

Aug 18, 2019
"perhaps most often denoted H, sapiens (w/o subspecies)". On taxonomy, it is rather contentious at the moment. H. sapiens is not well defined, as one can see from the databases, the new finds are not fitted there and the taxonomy wrongly suggests that humans can be broken out from apes. (In genetic trees chimpanzees and humans are sister lineages, with gorillas splitting earlier.)

So I would stay away from the binomial. Personally I use Africans (oldest finds in Africa vs Neanderthals earliest finds in Neanderthal valley et cetera - not completely consistent but close). Anatomically Modern Humans (see the paper I linked to) is not wrong but clumsy, and that modern trait (rounded skull) came later - we looked robust 2-3 times longer.

[Of course there are bigger taxonomic fish to fry; say, that vertebrate land animals are all fishes! Or insects crustaceans, birds dinosaurs, et cetera. We can't map taxonomy to genetics since the latter advances, but it could be more suggestive.]

Aug 18, 2019
@shootie doesn't know the difference between Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Snicker.


honey, those specie's names came before genetic testing and are based solely on taxonomies. We are not cousins with neanderthal and denisovan. It is far more complicated. again, see the 100 hours of the Neanderthal genetic conference listed above.

Aug 19, 2019
@shootie doesn't know the difference between Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Snicker.

Da Schitts, the knob gobbler, knows every homo.

LMAO.

Aug 19, 2019
@shootie doesn't know the difference between Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Snicker.

Da Schitts, the knob gobbler, knows every homo.

LMAO.


When are you due to finish primary school?

Aug 19, 2019
They left the Mongolian Steps behind where ever they tread

Stone tools uncovered in Mongolia
Indicate that modern humans
Travelled across the Eurasian steppe
45,000 years ago

And they came back
As Mongolians
Wiping out Civilisations
Laying waste to all before them
That
If you did not know any different
What they left in their wake
Resembled their Mongolian Steps

Foreth
They left the Mongolian Steps behind where ever they tread – Their Civilisation!

Aug 19, 2019
@shootie doesn't know the difference between Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Snicker.

Da Schitts, the knob gobbler, knows every homo.

LMAO.


When are you due to finish primary school?

When are you due to start?

Dug
Aug 29, 2019
Poor literature review for article claims. "Canadian scientists Lauriane Bourgeon and Ariane Burke, assisted by University of Oxford professor Thomas Higham, conducted a two-year re-analysis of the bones found in the Bluefish Caves, poring over 36,000 bone fragments held in a collection at the Canadian Museum of History and studying fragments that hadn't previously been taphonomically classified. After doing a thorough classification of the markings on the bones as made by natural forces or humans, they conducted radiocarbon dating of those they deemed to have been marked by humans. The earliest bone to show distinct human-made marks—a horse jaw, sawed by a stone tool that indicates the hunter was attempting to remove the tongue—dates to 24,000 years ago." ... "When you see those traces of cuts on the bones, and know that horse is believed to have disappeared 14,000 years ago, that means we can guess humans were here before. It was a huge discovery."

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