Image: Liujiang skull Homo sapiens side view

Liujiang skull Homo sapiens side view

Cast of Liujiang skull, discovered in 1958 in Guanxi province, South China. Age is uncertain, but at least 15,000 years old. This skull lacks the typically northern Asian features found in modern populations from those regions, lending support to popular theories that such features only arose in the last 8000 years.

Carl Bento
© Australian Museum


Early humans in Asia lack the characteristic features of the skull and face that are found in modern Asians. Exactly when typical Asian features arose is difficult to ascertain, but there appears to be little evolutionary continuity between modern Asians and the ancient populations that lived in Asia before 15,000 years ago.

The earliest evidence of Asian features in the fossil record is found in skulls from Baoji and Huaxian in China, dated to about 7,000 years. Genetic studies support the recent origin of Asian features. They suggest that a significant population reduction occurred in Asia about 10,000 years ago. This was followed by a rapid expansion, linked with the spread of agriculture, of a population where Asian features were dominant.

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