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Asian Trek: Fossil puts ancient humans in Far East

Researchers have unearthed a 40,000-year-old partial human skeleton in a northern Chinese cave. This rare find underscores the vast distances covered by human groups that left eastern Africa starting around 60,000 years ago. It also intensifies debate about whether prehistoric people replaced or interbred with humanlike species encountered during migration.

In 2001, tree-farm workers discovered a few bones from the ancient skeleton at Tianyuan Cave, located 56 kilometers southwest of Beijing. Chinese paleontologists led by Hong Shang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing then excavated the site in 2003 and 2004.

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