LIFE

Humans may have occupied Indonesian rainforests 20,000 years earlier than thought

The findings suggest that early humans could have migrated to Australia even earlier than previously thought. — AFP picThe findings suggest that early humans could have migrated to Australia even earlier than previously thought. — AFP picSYDNEY, Aug 10 — A team of researchers has announced today that early humans were living in the rainforests of Indonesia over 70,000 years ago, 20,000 years before what was previously believed, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

Researchers from the Australian Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) collaborated with an international team on the discovery in the Sumatran rainforest in Indonesia, with the results suggesting that early humans could have migrated to Australia even earlier than expected.

One of the researchers on the project, Julien Louys from the ARCHE, told Xinhua that the aim of the project was to “re-discover and re-analyse” Pleistocene fossil sites.

“Essentially, we knew that modern human remains had been recovered from one of these sites (Lida Ajer),” Louys said.

“We wanted to collect samples for dating, as well as looking at what sorts of environments these humans were living in.”

According to Louys, the remains of the early humans that were found were also located amongst other Sumatran rainforest mammals — which means it was likely that they were living in the similarly challenging rainforest environment for those of limited technological capability.

“Living in rainforests is difficult without sophisticated technology, as protein is hard to come by — rainforests typically have cryptic or canopy-loving animals that can be hard to catch — and carbohydrates are not common,” Louys said.

“That humans survived in these environments indicates that they were behaviourally modern, and had the necessary technologies to gather these resources.”

In order to survive, Louys believes that these early humans would have to have developed methods that were sophisticated for humans at that time, with adaptation to the unforgiving environment being key.

“They would have been able to make complex plans, have an understanding of where these resources could be found and how best to extract them, and have the ability to make tools or traps that can catch rainforest creatures.” Louys said.

Moving forward, the researcher said that he is hoping to determine the paths that these primitive humans took while migrating throughout South-east Asia — and to pinpoint when precisely this took place.

“It’s possible that humans were in South-east Asia even before these new dates,” Louys said.

“Also, we want to improve our understanding of how people were able to live in rainforests, and how early humans started making use of these types of environments.” — Bernama

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