New finds from China suggest human evolution probably of regional continuity

skull

The period between about 200,000 and 50,000 years ago saw the amplification of regional diversity in human biology. Given the fragmentary nature of that human fossil record, the nature of these late Middle and early Late Pleistocene humans in the more northern portions of eastern Eurasia has been unclear.

In their recent study, paleontologists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators reported two early Late Pleistocene (~105,000- to 125,000-year-old) crania from Lingjing, Xuchang, China. They exhibit a morphological mosaic with differences from and similarities to their western contemporaries. This morphological combination reflects Pleistocene human evolutionary patterns in general biology, as well as both regional continuity and interregional population dynamics.

The Xuchang 1 and 2 crania, excavated in situ in the Lingjing site in Xuchang County of Henan Province between 2007 and 2014, exhibit a distinctive morphological pattern combined with paleobiological trends that appear to have been pan-Old World. They reflect eastern Eurasian ancestry in having low, sagittally flat, and inferiorly broad neurocrania. They share occipital (suprainiac and nuchal torus) and temporal labyrinthine (semicircular canal) morphology with the Neandertals. Continue reading New finds from China suggest human evolution probably of regional continuity