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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 20;9(1):2347. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-38818-x.

Mosaic dental morphology in a terminal Pleistocene hominin from Dushan Cave in southern China.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, School of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China.
2
Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, Nanning, 530028, Guangxi, China.
3
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100044, China.
4
CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing, 100044, China.
5
Department of Anthropology, University College London (UCL), 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW, UK.
6
National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH), Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca s/n, Burgos, 09002, Spain.
7
Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University, 72 Jimo-Binhai Road, Qingdao, 266237, China. wangw@sdu.edu.cn.
8
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100044, China. liuwu@ivpp.ac.cn.
9
CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing, 100044, China. liuwu@ivpp.ac.cn.

Abstract

Recent studies reveal high degrees of morphological diversity in Late Pleistocene humans from East Asia. This variability was interpreted as complex demographic patterns with several migrations and possible survival of archaic groups. However, lack of well-described, reliably classified and accurately dated sites has seriously limited understanding of human evolution in terminal Pleistocene. Here we report a 15,000 years-old H. sapiens (Dushan 1) in South China with unusual mosaic features, such as large dental dimensions, cingulum-like structures at the dentine level in the posterior dentition and expression of a "crown buccal vertical groove complex", all of which are uncommon in modern humans and more typically found in Middle Pleistocene archaic humans. They could represent the late survival of one of the earliest modern humans to settle in an isolated region of southern China and, hence, the retention of primitive-like traits. They could also represent a particularity of this group and, hence, reflect a high degree of regional variation. Alternatively, these features may be the result of introgression from some late-surviving archaic population in the region. Our study demonstrates the extreme variability of terminal Pleistocene populations in China and the possibility of a complex demographic story in the region.

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