Exclusive Q&A With : Bernard A Wood University Professor of Human Origins at, Centre for Advanced Study of Human Paleo
Updated on: 24 Jun 2016
How do you make sense of the emerging evidence of hominin presence outside Asia more than 2 million years ago? Signs of hominin activity, 2.6 million years ago, have been reported in the Siwalik Hills of India and the age of fossil teeth at Longgupo cave in China was revised to 2.48 million years ago.
I was one of the people who originally thought the Longgupo mandible might belong to a hominin, but I am increasingly persuaded that it is a fossil of orangutan. So I think the evidence from Longgupo is not as compelling as some of us initially thought.
I am not a bioarchaeologist but I know that the people who are familiar with trying to analyse whether marks on bones are produced by stone artefacts remain to be convinced that those marks are made by stone tools and not by natural means. This is because when animals are trampling around they can leave marks on bones that really look like marks made by stone tools.
There are lots of sites in Africa where people got very excited that they had found what they called cut-marked bones, and most of these turned out to be the results of natural processes and not human behaviour. There must be evidence of early hominins in the Indian subcontinent but at the moment the evidence is few and far between.
I somehow doubt that the marks on those particular bones from the Siwalik Hills were made by stone tools.
Is it possible that the Homo genus evolved in Asia?