Early presence of Homo sapiens in Southeast Asia by 86–68 kyr at Tam Pà Ling, Northern Laos
The timing of the first arrival of Homo sapiens in East Asia from Africa and the degree to which they interbred with or replaced local archaic populations is controversial. Previous discoveries from Tam Pà Ling cave (Laos) identified H. sapiens in Southeast Asia by at least 46 kyr. We report on a recently discovered frontal bone (TPL 6) and tibial fragment (TPL 7) found in the deepest layers of TPL. Bayesian modeling of luminescence dating of sediments and U-series and combined U-series-ESR dating of mammalian teeth reveals a depositional sequence spanning ~86 kyr. TPL 6 confirms the presence of H. sapiens by 70 ± 3 kyr, and TPL 7 extends this range to 77 ± 9 kyr, supporting an early dispersal of H. sapiens into Southeast Asia. Geometric morphometric analyses of TPL 6 suggest descent from a gracile immigrant population rather than evolution from or admixture with local archaic populations.
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