July 16, 2005

25,800-year old Australoid from Thailand

Excavations in the Moh Khiew Cave in Thailand have uncovered a 25,800-year old skeleton. An analysis of these remains has shown that it is unlike Mongoloids, but is similar to a Late Pleistocene Australoid sample from Australia. It is widely believed that southeast Asia was once inhabited by people similar to the Australo-Melanesians, but this early population has been overwhelmed by Mongoloids, especially during the Holocene and afterwards:
The closest sample to the Moh Khiew specimen is the Late Pleistocene Coobool Creek from Australia, and the next closest is the modern Australian Aborigines. The Early to Middle Holocene Southeast Asian samples such as Liang Toge from Flores, Mai Da Dieu from Vietnam and Ban Kao from Thailand are distant from the Moh Khiew specimen.
Interestingly, the sample's mtDNA is similar to that of the Semang:
Oota et al. (2001) analysed mtDNA recovered from the Moh Khiew specimen and found continuity with the Semang Negrito foragers living in the Malay Peninsula.

Homo (Article in Press)

A morphometric analysis of the Late Pleistocene Human Skeleton from the Moh Khiew Cave in Thailand

Hirofumi Matsumura and Surin Pookajorn


Few Late Pleistocene human remains have been found in Southeast Asia and the morphological features of the people of that age are still largely unknown due to the virtual lack of human remains in the area. Recent excavations at the Moh Khiew Cave in Thailand resulted in the discovery of a Late Pleistocene human skeleton in a relatively good state of preservation. An AMS radiocarbon date on the charcoal sample gathered from the burial gave a result of 25,800±600 BP, implying that the inhabitants of Moh Khiew Cave resided in a part of Sundaland during the last glacial age. In debates on the population history of Southeast Asia, it has been repeatedly advocated that Southeast Asia was occupied by indigenous people akin to present-day Australo-Melanesians prior to an expansion of migrants from Northeast Asia into this area. Morphometric analyses were undertaken to test the validity of this hypothesis. In the present study, cranial and dental measurements recorded from the Moh Khiew remains are compared with those of early and modern samples from Southeast Asia and Australia. These comparisons demonstrate that the Moh Khiew specimen resembles the Late Pleistocene series from Coobool Creek, Australia in both cranial and dental measurements. These results suggest that the Moh Khiew skeleton, as well as other fossil remains from the Tabon, Niah and Gua Gunung sites, represents a member of the Sundaland population during the Late Pleistocene, who may share common ancestry with the present-day Australian Aborigines and Melanesians.


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