A group of researchers from the University of California at Davis shows, through a study presented in Scientific Reports, that humans arrived in today’s steppe Mongolia 10 years earlier than previously calculated. Following the discovery of various stone tools in Mongolia, the researchers calculated that the advent of the first human beings in this area must have occurred 45,000 years ago, 10,000 years earlier than previously estimated.
Furthermore, the same study shows the actual possibility of an encounter between these human beings and the Denisovans, our mysterious cousins who died out thousands of years ago. This same meeting could have been the main one that allowed Homo sapiens to take advantage of the particular geniuses of the Denisovans, which allowed our ancestors to be able to live and settle in high-altitude areas such as those of the Tibetan plateau.
The excavations were conducted by Nicolas Zwyns, a professor of anthropology and the lead author of the study, from 2011 to 2016 on the site called Tolbor-16 which is located along the Tolbor river, in the northern Hangaj mountains, in northern Mongolia. The objects found are 826 thick stone artifacts with long and regular blades, among other things similar to many others found in Siberia and China, which indicates the spread of human beings on a large scale in this period in Asia.
“The most intriguing aspect is that they are produced in a complicated but systematic way – and that this seems to be the signature of a human group that shares a common technical and cultural background,” says Zwyns himself regarding these correlations. Precisely this correlation allowed researchers to exclude that these objects had been created by Neanderthals or by the Denisovans themselves, information that they could not have acquired since no human remains were found on the site.
Other findings, for example related to grass and other organic matter of medium-sized cattle, especially sheep and goats as well as horses, have then made it clear that this area must have had a warmer and wetter period that made this region, normally cold and dry, more hospitable and more suitable also for grazing animals.
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