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Scientists Examine China’s Meipu Teeth

Thursday, January 14, 2021

China Meipu TeethBURGOS, SPAIN—According to a statement released by Spain’s National Center for the Investigation of Human Evolution (CENIEH), researchers María Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro, and their colleagues at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing examined the Meipu teeth, which were discovered in southern China in the 1970s, with computerized axial microtomography and other high-tech tools. The teeth have been dated to China’s Early Pleistocene period, between 780,000 and 990,000 years ago, and are different from the teeth of Homo erectus, thought to have been the dominant species in Asia between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago. Castro suggests the Meipu teeth, which lack the deep wrinkles found in the dentin of Homo erectus teeth, represent the remains of a species that migrated out of Africa and lived in Asia before the appearance of Homo erectus. The shape of the Meipu teeth, Martinón-Torres added, are more similar to that of Homo ergaster, and the 1.8 million-year-old fossils recovered at the Dmanisi site in the Republic of Georgia—the oldest hominin remains unearthed outside of Africa to date. For more on hominins in China, go to "An Opportunity for Early Humans in China."

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