Early Modern humans and morphological variation in Southeast Asia: Fossil evidence from Tam Pa Ling, Laos

Fabrice Demeter, Laura Shackelford, Kira Westaway, Philippe Duringer, Anne Marie Bacon, Jean Luc Ponche, Xiujie Wu, Thongsa Sayavongkhamdy, Jian Xin Zhao, Lani Barnes, Marc Boyon, Phonephanh Sichanthongtip, Frank Sénégas, Anne Marie Karpoff, Elise Patole-Edoumba, Yves Coppens, José Braga

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    Little is known about the timing of modern human emergence and occupation in Eastern Eurasia. However a rapid migration out of Africa into Southeast Asia by at least 60 ka is supported by archaeological, paleogenetic and paleoanthropological data. Recent discoveries in Laos, a modern human cranium (TPL1) from Tam Pa Ling 's cave, provided the first evidence for the presence of early modern humans in mainland Southeast Asia by 63-46 ka. In the current study, a complete human mandible representing a second individual, TPL 2, is described using discrete traits and geometric morphometrics with an emphasis on determining its population affinity. The TPL2 mandible has a chin and other discrete traits consistent with early modern humans, but it retains a robust lateral corpus and internal corporal morphology typical of archaic humans across the Old World. The mosaic morphology of TPL2 and the fully modern human morphology of TPL1 suggest that a large range of morphological variation was present in early modern human populations residing in the eastern Eurasia by MIS 3.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere121193
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015

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