sign in a cave in Laos

30 September 2021

Human jaw bone found in Maros cave, Sulawesi

The rock art in the caves in Maros, south Sulawesi, have been widely documented over the years. Now we have news that a Pleistocene human jawbone has been found in Leang Bulu Bettue cave. This is the first indication of humans during that time period. The jawbone, complete with teeth, has been dated to between 25,000 and 16,000 years old. The Australian archaeologists haven't been able to determine the sex or age of the person. The results were published in PLoS One, Sept 29 2021

Additional news about another find - 

In August a different team announced the recovery of genetic material from a 7,000-year-old skeleton from Leang Panninge in Maros. The skeleton was found in 2015 and was the first relatively complete human burial from the "Toalean" society. It was deduced the skeleton was a 17–18-year-old female with a broadly Australo-Melanesian affinity. She was buried in a flexed position, probably 7300-7200 years BP . The extracted DNA shows the remains belonged to a woman who was 18 years old when she died during the Holocene. Article published in Nature, 25 August 2021.

So the jawbone is a lot older than the 7000 year old skeleton. Researchers will continue digging to try and find more bones. The new find pushes back Homo sapiens’ existence on Sulawesi by thousands of years. 


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