A Middle Pleistocene Denisovan molar from the Annamite Chain of northern Laos

Fabrice Demeter, Clément Zanolli, Kira E. Westaway, Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Philippe Duringer, Mike W. Morley, Frido Welker, Patrick L. Rüther, Matthew M. Skinner, Hugh McColl, Charleen Gaunitz, Lasse Vinner, Tyler E. Dunn, Jesper V. Olsen, Martin Sikora, Jean-Luc Ponche, Eric Suzzoni, Sébastien Frangeul, Quentin Boesch, Pierre-Olivier AntoineLei Pan, Song Xing, Jian-Xin Zhao, Richard M. Bailey, Souliphane Boualaphane, Phonephanh Sichanthongtip, Daovee Sihanam, Elise Patole-Edoumba, Françoise Aubaile, Françoise Crozier, Nicolas Bourgon, Alexandra Zachwieja, Thonglith Luangkhoth, Viengkeo Souksavatdy, Thongsa Sayavongkhamdy, Enrico Cappellini, Anne-Marie Bacon, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Eske Willerslev, Laura Shackelford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Pleistocene presence of the genus Homo in continental Southeast Asia is primarily evidenced by a sparse stone tool record and rare human remains. Here we report a Middle Pleistocene hominin specimen from Laos, with the discovery of a molar from the Tam Ngu Hao 2 (Cobra Cave) limestone cave in the Annamite Mountains. The age of the fossil-bearing breccia ranges between 164–131 kyr, based on the Bayesian modelling of luminescence dating of the sedimentary matrix from which it was recovered, U-series dating of an overlying flowstone, and U-series–ESR dating of associated faunal teeth. Analyses of the internal structure of the molar in tandem with palaeoproteomic analyses of the enamel indicate that the tooth derives from a young, likely female, Homo individual. The close morphological affinities with the Xiahe specimen from China indicate that they belong to the same taxon and that Tam Ngu Hao 2 most likely represents a Denisovan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2557
Number of pages17
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022

Keywords

  • Annamite Mountains
  • Homo erectus
  • Fossils
  • Laos
  • Middle Pleistocene Denisovan molar

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