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Modern man reached China up to 70,000 years before Europe, says study

A fossil find has revealed that Homo sapiens likely reached China around 80,000 to 120,000 years ago. The research was based on the discovery of 47 teeth in a cave near Beijing.

According to a study published in the British science journal "Nature," human teeth discovered in China serve as evidence that Homo sapiens left eastern Africa up to 70,000 years earlier than suggested by previous theories.

"The model that is generally accepted is that modern humans left Africa only 50,000 years ago," said the study's co-author Maria Martinon-Torres, a paleoanthropologist at University College London.

The research team behind the study said that the remains of more than 35 mammals were discovered in the Fuyan cave, including five extinct species.

Why not Europe?

The study's lead author, paleoanthropologist Wu Liu of the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, said the teeth were about twice as old as the earliest ones found in Europe.

"Why is it that modern humans - who were already at the gates - didn't really get into Europe?" Martinon-Torres asked in the study.

"The classic idea is that H. sapiens…took over the Neanderthal empire, but maybe Neanderthals were a kind of ecological barrier, and Europe was too small a place for both to coexist," Martinon-Torres said, adding that Europe's severely cold weather may have also been a deterrent.

The earliest remains of Homo sapiens in Europe date back to around 40,000 to 45,000 years ago, while in Asia, the latest discovery puts them in at 80,000 to 120,000 years ago.

ls/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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