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

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  • Clément Zanolli
  • Kira E Westaway
  • Renaud Joannes-Boyau
  • Philippe Duringer
  • Mike W Morley
  • Patrick L. Rüther
  • Matthew M Skinner
  • Tyler E. Dunn
  • Jean-Luc Ponche
  • Eric Suzzoni
  • Sébastien Frangeul
  • Quentin Boesch
  • Pierre-Olivier Antoine
  • Lei 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
  • Anne-Marie Bacon
  • Jean-Jacques Hublin
  • Laura Shackelford

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
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Animals, Bayes Theorem, Female, Fossils, Hominidae/anatomy & histology, Humans, Laos, Molar

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