Hunan, China – A recent fossil discovered in China places humans in the Asian continent 20,000 years before the commonly accepted date for the African human migration.

The group of researchers found in Daoxian a trove of 47 human teeth which belonged to Homo sapiens (anatomically modern humans) who according to evidence-sustained archeological theories, didn’t exist in Asia at that time.

These 47 human teeth found from the Fuyan Cave in Hunan province show that Homo sapiens arrived in southern China at least 80,000 years ago, well before the species came to Europe. Credit: Nuzzle

“They are from 30,000 to 70,000 years earlier in China than it was generally accepted that our species would have reached this region,” wrote study co-author María Martinón­-Torres in an email to The Christian Science Monitor.

The traditional narrative of humankind peopling of the globe began by our species dispersal from Africa, who crossed the Red Sea via the Bab el Mandeb straits, taking advantage of low water levels. That diaspora is the one believed to derive all existing people today. The discovery by a research group in Daoxian contradicts the strong evidence supporting a dispersal from Africa 60,000 years ago.

University College London paleoanthropologist María Martinón-Torres said our species made it to southern China tens of thousands of years before colonizing Europe perhaps because of the entrenched presence of our hardy cousins, the Neanderthals, in Europe and the harsh, cold European climate.

Experts like paleoanthropologist Wu Liu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute hope Daoxian human fossil discoveries will make people understand that East Asia is one key area for the study of the origin and evolution of modern humans, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

“This is stunning. It’s major league,” said Michael Petraglia, an Oxford archeologist not involved in the research, to Nature. “It’s one of the most important finds coming out of Asia in the last decade.”

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, raises questions to be addressed in future research, using both genetics and fossil records.

Source: Nature