Chinese teeth claimed to alter “Out of Africa” story

Here’s a news story regarding human evolution, or rather, the old-
Earth saga of the wanderings of modern humans. It’s claimed that a
bunch of teeth found in a cave prove that humans left Africa behind
long ago, moved to China, and then spread out from there.

Hmmm, seems there have been a lot of fossils coming out of China with
claims to being the first and best. Several of the key dino-bird
fossils showed up with stories of having been dug up by farmers, and
nobody has found another of the same species since. Is there something
fishy here? Could the Chinese be up to something for the prestige?
There certainly seems to be a note of pride in this quote:

“Our discovery, together with other research findings,
suggests southern China should be the key, central area for the emergence and evolution of modern humans in East Asia,” the study’s co-lead author, Wu Liu, of China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, told Live Science.


What exactly prompts this claim? “…a trove of 47 human teeth,” What,
just teeth? “… as well as bones…” Oh. “…from many other extinct
and living animals, such as pandas, hyenas and pigs.” OH. Yeah, isn’t
that strange, if not very suspicious, that there should be bones from
many other extant animals, but only teeth from the humans? For that matter, how likely is it that bones from those three animals would be found together? In a cave?

Oh, wait, there’s more… “These newfound teeth are smaller than counterparts of similar ages from Africa and elsewhere in China. Instead, they more closely resemble teeth from contemporary modern humans. This suggests…” that the teeth were artificially aged and planted? Whoops, no… “… different kinds of humans were living in China at the same time — archaic kinds in northern China, and ones more like modern humans in southern China.” Hmm. The original report does say the teeth are “more derived than any other anatomically modern humans, resembling middle-to-late Late Pleistocene specimens and even contemporary humans,” so not just “anatomically modern,” but truly like our teeth.

But who is going to challenge prestigious Chinese researchers with
“seeding” the site? Or mistaking some early medicine man’s cast-offs
for teeth that belonged with the ancient sediments they were buried
in? Isn’t argon dating usually used for things expected to be millions
of years old? Now that they’ve “established” an age of at least 80
thousand years, nobody would dare try carbon dating…

The researchers suggest that this great migration indicates that, rather than modern humans driving Neanderthals to extinction (through competition if not directly), the Neanderthals kept modern humans out of Europe until they began dying off for other reasons. Interesting. Well, if you want to make up stories about the ancient past from bits and pieces, there are all sorts of possibilities, but it’s not really science in my book.

References:

http://news.yahoo.com/humans-exited-africa-trekked-china-fossils-
reveal-121346496.html

“Humans Exited Africa, and Trekked to China, Fossils Reveal”
LiveScience.com By Charles Q. Choi, October 15, 2015

————

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature15696.html

“The earliest unequivocally modern humans in southern China,”
Wu Liu et al., Nature (2015) doi:10.1038/nature15696, Published Online October 15

2 thoughts on “Chinese teeth claimed to alter “Out of Africa” story

  1. Teeth…of all things….and with those other bones….could they be just what other beast couldn’t digest after having eaten a corpse elsewhere? And it does have a ring of suspicion. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly in the room where they come up with their theories?

    1. Hmm, yes, there were hyena bones there, and they eat anything, but tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body. So actually, that gives a good possible explanation for just finding teeth, making it less suspicious that no other human remains were found. It might take an extra big, strong, hungry hyena to eat a human jaw, but those critters are amazing eaters. I’d still like to try carbon-dating the bones – not that I expect that to give an accurate date (unless they are modern plants after all), but as a check on the argon date of the sediments.

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