Australian’s left Africa 75,000 Years Ago

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AN ancient skull found in northern Laos suggests fully modern people had settled in mainland Southeast Asia as early as 60,000 years ago and probably contributed to the population of Australia.

The discovery at Tam Pa Ling — “Cave of the Monkeys” — not only pushes back the arrival of modern humans in the region by 20,000 years, it also bolsters genetic evidence that the first Australians left Africa nearly 75,000 years ago, followed by a second wave 25,000 to 38,000 years ago.

“Given its age, fossils in this vicinity could be direct ancestors of the first migrants to Australia.”

Geneticist Mike Bunce– from Perth’s Murdoch University and a member of the team that last year reported evidence from 80-year-old Aboriginal DNA, showing Australia’s indigenous people descended from the first wave of modern people to leave Africa — said: “What a great find.”

“We’re looking at fully modern people with no archaic traits at all — that’s what’s so exciting,” Dr Westaway said yesterday.

Dr Bunce agreed with Dr Shackelford that the remains indicated that mainland Southeast Asia was a crossroads leading to multiple migration paths.

“We know that ‘modern’ humans were in Australia by 50,000 years ago, so it’s completely consistent that they should be in Southeast Asia prior to this,” he said.

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