The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Salkhit and modern human origins in northeast Asia


1Anthropology, University of California, Riverside, 2Archaeology, Seoul National University

Saturday 10:30-10:45, Grand Ballroom II Add to calendar

The early modern human fossil discovered in Salkhit, Mongolia, is considered to be of late Pleistocene based on biostratigraphy, and an important addition to understanding modern human origins and evolution in northeast Asia. Previous study associated Salkhit with archaic humans using metric and non-metric variables; however, subsequent discussions have associated Salkhit with modern humans ancestral to the first peoples of Americas. The recent replacement model for modern human origins predicts that Salkhit is a different species from archaic northeast Asians. In this paper, we ask if the amount of variation in the fossil sample of archaic and modern humans in northeast Asia is too much to be from a single species.

The fragmentary nature of the fossil data imposes methodological limitations to using traditional statistical methods. We use an alternative approach, STET, a method using the standard error of the coefficient from a linear regression model relating a pair of specimens. Using STET, Salkhit is compared with early moderns in Africa, in northeast Asia, and archaic humans in northeast Asia. Preliminary results fail to reject the null hypothesis that Salkhit and other moderns belong to the same species as the archaic humans in northeast Asia. Our findings do not support the hypothesis of modern humans as a new, recent species.

This research was supported by NSF 0803410 and NGS W35-08 (S-H.L.).

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