An early modern human presence in Sumatra 73,000–63,000 years ago

Abstract

Genetic evidence for anatomically modern humans (AMH) out of Africa before 75 thousand years ago (ka)1 and in island southeast Asia (ISEA) before 60 ka (93–61 ka)2 predates accepted archaeological records of occupation in the region3. Claims that AMH arrived in ISEA before 60 ka (ref. 4) have been supported only by equivocal5 or non-skeletal evidence6. AMH evidence from this period is rare and lacks robust chronologies owing to a lack of direct dating applications7, poor preservation and/or excavation strategies8 and questionable taxonomic identifications9. Lida Ajer is a Sumatran Pleistocene cave with a rich rainforest fauna associated with fossil human teeth7,10. The importance of the site is unclear owing to unsupported taxonomic identification of these fossils and uncertainties regarding the age of the deposit, therefore it is rarely considered in models of human dispersal. Here we reinvestigate Lida Ajer to identify the teeth confidently and establish a robust chronology using an integrated dating approach. Using enamel–dentine junction morphology, enamel thickness and comparative morphology, we show that the teeth are unequivocally AMH. Luminescence and uranium-series techniques applied to bone-bearing sediments and speleothems, and coupled uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating of mammalian teeth, place modern humans in Sumatra between 73 and 63 ka. This age is consistent with biostratigraphic estimations7, palaeoclimate and sea-level reconstructions, and genetic evidence for a pre-60 ka arrival of AMH into ISEA2. Lida Ajer represents, to our knowledge, the earliest evidence of rainforest occupation by AMH, and underscores the importance of reassessing the timing and environmental context of the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Location of Indonesia, Sumatra and Lida Ajer cave and associated breccia.
Figure 2: Lida Ajer breccia; structure and stratigraphic relationships.
Figure 3: A summary of the results from the Lida Ajer cave analysis.

References

  1. 1

    Pagani, L. et al. Genomic analyses inform on migration events during the peopling of Eurasia. Nature 538, 238–242 (2016)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Fu, Q. et al. A revised timescale for human evolution based on ancient mitochondrial genomes. Curr. Biol. 23, 553–559 (2013)

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Oppenheimer, S. The great arc of dispersal of modern humans: Africa to Australia. Quat. Int. 202, 2–13 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Dennell, R. & Petraglia, M. D. The dispersal of Homo sapiens across southern Asia: how early, how often, how complex? Quat. Sci. Rev. 47, 15–22 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Liu, W. et al. The earliest unequivocally modern humans in southern China. Nature 526, 696–699 (2015)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Morwood, M. J. et al. Climate, people and faunal succession on Java, Indonesia: evidence from Song Gupuh. J. Archaeol. Sci. 35, 1776–1789 (2008)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    de Vos, J. in The Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science (ed. Elias, S. A. ) 3232–3249 (Elsevier, 2007)

  8. 8

    Morwood, M. J. et al. Preface: research at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia. J. Hum. Evol. 57, 437–449 (2009)

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Schwartz, J. H., Long, V. T., Cuong, N. L. Kha, L. T. & Tattersall, I. A review of the Pleistocene hominoid fauna of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (excluding Hylobatidae). Anthropol. Pap. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 76, 1–24 (1995)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Dubois, E. Voorlopig bericht omtrent het onderzoek naar de Pleistocene en Tertiaire vertebraten-fauna van Sumatra en Java, gedurende het jaar 1890. Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Indië 51, 93–100 (1891)

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    de Vos, J. The Pongo faunas from Java and Sumatra and their significance for biostratigraphical and paleo-ecological interpretations. Proc. Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie Wetenschappen 86, 417–425 (1983)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Hooijer, D. A. Prehistoric teeth of man and of the orang-utan from central Sumatra, with notes on the fossil orang-utan from Java and Southern China. Zool. Meded. 29, 175–301 (1948)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Drawhorn, G. M. The Systematics and Paleodemography of Fossil Orangutans. PhD Thesis, Univ. California (Davis, 1994)

  14. 14

    Louys, J. & Meijaard, E. Palaeoecology of southeast Asian megafauna-bearing sites from the Pleistocene and a review of environmental changes in the region. J. Biogeogr. 37, 1432–1449 (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Westaway, K. E. et al. Age and biostratigraphic significance of the Punung rainforest fauna, East Java, Indonesia; implications for Pongo and Homo. J. Hum. Evol. 53, 709–717 (2007)

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Indriati, E. et al. The age of the 20 meter Solo River terrace, Java, Indonesia and the survival of Homo erectus in Asia. PLoS ONE 6, e21562 (2011)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Storm, P. et al. U-series and radiocarbon analyses of human and faunal remains from Wajak, Indonesia. J. Hum. Evol. 64, 356–365 (2013)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    St Pierre, E. J. et al. Preliminary U-series and thermoluminescence dating of deposits in Liang Bua sub-chamber, Flores, Indonesia. J. Archaeol. Sci. 40, 148–155 (2013)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Roberts, R. G. et al. Geochronology of cave deposits in Liang Bua and of adjacent river terraces in the Wae Racang valley, western Flores, Indonesi: a synthesis of age estimates for the type locality of Homo floresiensis. J. Hum. Evol. 57, 484–502 (2009)

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Louys, J. & Turner, A. Environment, preferred habitats and potential refugia for Pleistocene Homo in Southeast Asia. C. R. Palevol 11, 203–211 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Barker, G. & Farr, L. (eds) Archaeological Investigations in the Niah Caves, Sarawak, 1954–2004 Monographs 2 (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2016)

  22. 22

    Shackelford, L. et al. Additional evidence for early modern human morphological diversity in Southeast Asia at Tam Pa Ling, Laos. Quat. Int. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.12.002 (in the press) (2017)

  23. 23

    Oppenheimer, S. A single southern exit of modern humans from Africa: before or after Toba? Quat. Int. 258, 88–99 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Petraglia, M. D., Ditchfield, P., Jones, S., Korisettar, R. & Pal, J. N. The Toba volcanic super-eruption, environmental change, and hominin occupation history in India over the last 140,000 years. Quat. Int. 258, 119–134 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Groucutt, H. S. et al. Rethinking the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Evol. Anthropol. 24, 149–164 (2015)

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    van der Kaars, S. et al. The influence of the ~73 ka Toba super-eruption on the ecosystems of northern Sumatra as recorded in marine core BAR94-25. Quat. Int. 258, 45–53 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Newsome, J. & Flenley, J. R. Late Quaternary vegetational history of the Central Highlands of Sumatra. II. Palaeopalynology and vegetational history. J. Biogeogr. 15, 555–578 (1988)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Erlandson, J. M. & Braje T. J. Coasting out of Africa: the potential of mangrove forests and marine habitats to facilitate human coastal expansion via the Southern Dispersal Route. Quat. Int. 382, 31–41 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Roberts, P. & Petraglia, M. Pleistocene rainforests: barriers or attractive environments for early human foragers? World Archaeol. 47, 718–739 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Weidenreich, F. The dentition of Sinanthropus pekinensis: a comparative odontography of the hominids (China Geological survey Palaeontologia sinica, new series D, 1937)

  31. 31

    Moorrees, C. F. A. The Aleut Dentition (Harvard Univ. Press, 1957)

  32. 32

    Rasband, W. S. ImageJ. http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/ (National Institutes of Health, USA, 1997–2008)

  33. 33

    Turner, C. G ., Nichol, C. R . & Scott, G. R. In Advances in Dental Anthropology (eds Kelley, M. A . & Larsen, C. S. ) 13–31 (Wiley-Liss, 1991)

  34. 34

    Smith, T. M., Olejniczak, A. J., Reid, D. J., Ferrell, R. J. & Hublin, J.-J. Modern human molar enamel thickness and enamel–dentine junction shape. Arch. Oral Biol. 51, 974–995 (2006)

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Smith, T.M. et al. Dental tissue proportions in fossil orangutans from mainland Asia and Indonesia. Hum. Origins Res. 1, e1 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Smith, T. M., Kupczik, K., Machanda, Z., Skinner, M. M. & Zermeno, J. P. Enamel thickness in Bornean and Sumatran orangutan dentitions. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 147, 417–426 (2012)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Martin, L. B. Relationships of the later Miocene Hominoidea. PhD thesis, Univ. College London (1983)

  38. 38

    Martin, L. Significance of enamel thickness in hominoid evolution. Nature 314, 260–263 (1985)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Skinner, M. M., Gunz, P., Wood, B. A. & Hublin, J.-J. Enamel–dentine junction (EDJ) morphology distinguishes the lower molars of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. J. Hum. Evol. 55, 979–988 (2008)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Skinner, M. M., Gunz, P., Wood, B. A., Boesch, C. & Hublin, J. J. Discrimination of extant Pan species and subspecies using the enamel–dentine junction morphology of lower molars. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 140, 234–243 (2009)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Huntley, D. J., Godfrey-Smith, D. I. & Thewalt, M. L. W. Optical dating of sediments. Nature 313, 105–107 (1985)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Westaway, K. E. & Roberts, R. G. A dual-aliquot regenerative-dose protocol (DAP) for thermoluminescence (TL) dating of quartz sediments using the light-sensitive and isothermally stimulated red emissions. Quat. Sci. Rev. 25, 2513–2528 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Spooner, N. A. & Franklin, A. D. Effect of the heating rate on the red TL of quartz. Radiat. Meas. 35, 59–66 (2002)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Murray, A. S. & Mejdahl, V. Comparison of regenerative-dose single-aliquot and multiple-aliquot (SARA) protocols using heated quartz from archaeological sites. Quat. Sci. Rev. 18, 223–229 (1999)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Huot, S., Buylaert, J.-P. & Murray, A. S. Isothermal thermoluminescence signals from quartz. Radiat. Meas. 41, 796–802 (2006)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Murray, A. S. & Wintle, A. G. Luminescence dating of quartz using an improved single-aliquot regenerative-dose protocol. Radiat. Meas. 32, 57–73 (2000)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  47. 47

    Morwood, M. J. et al. Archaeology and age of a new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia. Nature 431, 1087–1091 (2004)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  48. 48

    Thomsen, K. J., Murray, A. S., Jain, M. & Botter-Jensen, L. Laboratory fading rates of various luminescence signals from feldspar-rich sediment extracts. Radiat. Meas. 43, 1474–1486 (2008)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  49. 49

    Murray, A. S., Buylaert, J. P., Thomsen, K. J. & Jain, M. The effect of preheating on the IRSL signal from feldspar. Radiat. Meas. 44, 554–559 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  50. 50

    Thiel, C. et al. Luminescence dating of the Stratzing loess profile (Austria)—testing the potential of an elevated temperature post-IR IRSL protocol. Quat. Int. 234, 23–31 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51

    Thomsen, K. J., Murray, A. S. & Jain, M. Stability of IRSL signals from sedimentary K-feldspar samples. Geochronometria 38, 1–13 (2011)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. 52

    Buylaert, J. P., Murray, A. S., Thomsen, K. J. & Jain, M. Testing the potential of an elevated temperature IRSL signal from K-feldspar. Radiat. Meas. 44, 560–565 (2009)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. 53

    Stokes, S. et al. Alternative chronologies for Late Quaternary (Last Interglacial–Holocene) deep sea sediments via optical dating of silt-sized quartz. Quat. Sci. Rev. 22, 925–941 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  54. 54

    Mejdahl, V. Thermoluminescence dating: beta-dose attenuation in quartz grains. Archaeometry 21, 61–72 (1979)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  55. 55

    Feathers, J. K. & Migliorini, E. Luminescence dating at Katanda—a reassessment. Quat. Sci. Rev. 20, 961–966 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  56. 56

    Huntley, D. J. & Baril, M. R. The K content of the K-feldspars being measured in optical dating or in thermoluminescence dating. Anc. TL 15, 11–13 (1997)

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57

    Huntley, D. J. & Hancock, R. G. V. The Rb contents of the K-feldspars being measured in optical dating. Anc. TL 19, 43–46 (2001)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  58. 58

    Prescott, J. R. & Hutton, J. T. Cosmic-ray contributions to dose rates for luminescence and ESR dating: large depths and long-term time variations. Radiat. Meas. 23, 497–500 (1994)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  59. 59

    Zhao, J.-x., Hu, K., Collerson, K. D. & Xu, H.-k. Thermal ionization mass spectrometry U-series dating of a hominid site near Nanjing, China. Geology 29, 27–30 (2001)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  60. 60

    Zhou, H. Y., Zhao, J. X., Wang, Q., Feng, Y. X. & Tang, J. Speleothem-derived Asian summer monsoon variations in Central China during 54–46 ka. J. Quat. Sci. 26, 781–790 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61

    Clark, T. R. et al. Discerning the timing and cause of historical mortality events in modern Porites from the Great Barrier Reef. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 138, 57–80 (2014)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  62. 62

    Ludwig, K. R. User’s Manual for Isoplot 3.75. A Geochronological Toolkit for Microsoft Excel (Berkeley Geochronology Center Special Publication No. 5, 2012)

  63. 63

    Cheng, H. et al. The half-lives of uranium-234 and thorium-230. Chem. Geol. 169, 17–33 (2000)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  64. 64

    Eggins, S. M. et al. In situ U-series dating by laser-ablation multi-collector ICPMS: new prospects for Quaternary geochronology. Quat. Sci. Rev. 24, 2523–2538 (2005)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  65. 65

    Grün, R., Eggins, S., Kinsley, L., Moseley, H. & Sambridge, M. Laser ablation U-series analysis of fossil bones and teeth. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 416, 120–167 (2014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 66

    Grün, R. et al. ESR and U-series analyses of teeth from the palaeoanthropological site of Hexian, Anhui Province, China. J. Hum. Evol. 34, 555–564 (1998)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  67. 67

    Ludwig, K. R. User’s Manual for Isoplot 3.00 (Berkeley Geochronology Center, 2003)

  68. 68

    Joannes-Boyau, R. Detailed protocol for an accurate non-destructive direct dating of tooth enamel fragment using electron spin resonance. Geochronometria 40, 322–333 (2013)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  69. 69

    Duval, M. & Grün, R. Are published ESR dose assessments on fossil tooth enamel reliable? Quat. Geochronol. 31, 19–27 (2016)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 70

    Shao, Q., Bahain, J.-J., Falgueres, C., Dolo, J.-M. & Garcia, T. A new U-uptake model for combined ESR/U-series dating of tooth enamel. Quat. Geochronol. 10, 406–411 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 71

    Guérin, G., Mercier, N. & Adamiec, G. Dose–rate conversion factors: update. Anc. TL 29, 5–8 (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  72. 72

    Bronk Ramsey, C. Radiocarbon calibration and analysis of stratigraphy: the OxCal program. Radiocarbon 37, 425–430 (1995)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  73. 73

    Xing, S., Martinón-Torres, M., Bermúdez de Castro, J. M., Wu, X. & Liu, W. Hominin teeth from the early Late Pleistocene site of Xujiayao, Northern China. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 156, 224–240 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Australian Research Council Discovery grants (DP1093049, DP140100919, and DP120101752 to K.E.W., R.J.-B., and G.J.P. et al., respectively) and a Leaky Foundation grant and Research School of Asia and the Pacific Grant Development Support grant to J.L. C.S.’s research is supported by the Human Origins Research Fund and the Calleva Foundation. We acknowledge the Max Planck Society for funding micro-CT scanning of the teeth, A. Olejnicak and J. P. Zermeno for assistance with section preparation, and support provided by the Centre from Archaeology in Padang Sumatra and ARKENAS in Jakarta and for allowing access to the site and four fossil faunal teeth for dating. We thank the Department of Geology, Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, The Netherlands for providing access to Dubois’s fieldnote book, excavation details, the two modern human teeth for scanning and the Pongo tooth for dating, and we thank C. Bronk Ramsey for assistance with age modelling.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

K.E.W., R.D.A., J.L., G.J.P., W.D.S. mapped and excavated the site and collected faunal and dating samples, K.E.W. conducted the red thermoluminescence and pIR-IRSL dating, J.-x.Z. and G.J.P. conducted the U-series measurements on the speleothem, while M.A. and L.K. conducted U-series profiling on the fossil teeth and R.J.-B. conducted the U-series/ESR dating. G.D.v.d.B. and R.D.A. analysed the fauna and M.J.M., G.D.v.d.B., J.d.V., Y.R., J.Z., W.D.S. and A.T. helped to find and organize access to the site. T.M.S. and J.d.V. conducted the micro-CT scanning of the teeth, and T.M.S. measured enamel thickness. T.C. and C.S. described the teeth and M.M.S. analysed the enamel–dentine junction. R.M.B. aided in the design of the dating approach and conducted the Bayesian modelling, while A.W.G.P. conducted the modelling of the U-series age estimates. Finally, E.W.S. and B.S. helped with the dating of the fauna and K.E.W., J.L., G.J.P., J.-x.Z., R.J.-B., G.D.v.d.B., M.A., T.M.S., T.C., M.M.S., C.S. and J.d.V. wrote the paper, with early contributions from M.J.M. and R.D.A.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to K. E. Westaway.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Reviewer Information Nature thanks G. Barker, R. Dennell and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Southeast Asian fossil sites and Dubois’ Lida Ajer.

a, Corridor of dispersal of fauna into southeast Asia during periods of connection (redrawn with permission from ref. 7). b, The main fossil faunal sites in southeast Asia. In southern China: 1, Luijiang; 2, Liucheng; 3, Hoshantung; 4, Hei-Tu’ung; 5, Changyang; 6, Hsing-an. In Vietnam: 7, Lang Trang; 8, Tham Khuyen; 9, Thung Lang; 10, Hang Hum; 11, Ma U ‘Oi; 12, Tham Om; 13, Keo Leng. In Laos: 14, Tham Hang; 15, Tham P’a Loi. In Thailand: 16, Thum Wiman Nakin; 17, Thum Phra Khai Phet. In Cambodia: 18, Phnom Loang. In Borneo; 19, Niah Cave. In Indonesia: 20, Lida Ajer; 21, Sibrambang; 22, Punung (redrawn with permission from ref. 7). c, Dubois’ field sketches of Lida Ajer cave location copied directly from his field notebook—now housed in Leiden (with permission from the Naturalis, the Netherlands). His rough sketch of the cave location close to Payakumbuh village has had annotations added to make the features clearer. d, Our map of the cave location for comparison, note the similar relationship between Mount Sago, River Agam and Lida Ajer. e, Dubois’ plan of the cave, annotations have been added to identify the chambers discussed in the text. f, Our plan of the cave for comparison, with the only differences being the absence of the sinkhole passage on our plan (unmapped).

Extended Data Figure 2 Fauna and speleothems from minor excavations at Lida Ajer in 2007.

a, Cervid sp. b, Cervid sp. c, Pongo sp., upper premolar. d, Rusa sp. e, Pongo sp., molar. f, Pongo sp., molar mesial view from c. g, Siamang gibbon, molar. h, Pongo sp., molar mesial view from e. i, Hystrix sp. j, Soda straw stalactite samples LA08-29 (own scale on photograph). k, Photograph of areas 3 and 4 in the cave where the majority of fossil fauna were discovered.

Extended Data Figure 3 The fossil human teeth from Lida Ajer Cave and associated metrics.

a, b, The incisor (a) and molar (b) mesio:distal ratio versus bucco:lingual ratio metrics plotted against data from 37 and 353 fossil Pongo teeth15, respectively. c, d, The incisor (c) and molar (d) data are plotted against the full range of Homo teeth from African early Homo to recent modern (data from ref. 73). In all four plots, the Lida Ajer teeth are denoted by a red star, with the key for symbols in c, d, representing the different human teeth is indicated on the right. e, f, The incisor (e) and molar (f) from Lida Ajer.

Extended Data Figure 4 Micro-CT of the Lida Ajer teeth.

a, Virtual sections of the Lida Ajer teeth. The labio-lingual section of the incisor is shown on the left, the bucco-lingual section through the mesial molar cusps is shown on the right. Scale bar, 5 mm. b, EDJ anatomical landmarks. Landmark protocol for geometric morphometric analysis of EDJ shape. Numbers in brackets represent the number of equidistantly spaced landmarks between main landmarks (red spheres) and around the cervix.

Extended Data Figure 5 Internal and external structure of the Lida Ajer teeth.

Top, CT-based volume renderings of the external surface (left) and surface models of the EDJ (right) of the Lida Ajer molar in six anatomical views. Bottom, initial landmark placement (yellow spheres) capturing the main dentine horns, EDJ ridge and cervix (left) and noting the presence of an accessory dentine horn mesial to the metacone (right).

Extended Data Figure 6 Principal component analysis of the EDJ shape of the comparative sample and the Lida Ajer molar.

Extended Data Figure 7 Example of the red thermoluminescence and pIR-IRSL data for sample LA-1.

a, b, A comparison of the red thermoluminescence signal characteristics using glow curves derived from a Liang Bua sample WR1 (a) and from the Lida Ajer sample (b). The glow curves demonstrate that after 500 Gy dosing the low temperature peaks disappear with the introduction of the 260 °C preheat, and the presence of a light-sensitive shoulder (260–305 °C) that is removed by 1 h of bleaching. The Lida Ajer sample shows similarities with the Liang Bua sample, but has a more defined bleachable shoulder and a more intense signal. c, Isothermal decay of the red thermoluminescence signal from sample LA-1. d, Dose–response curve for the unbleachable signal derived from aliquot A providing a De of 132 ± 13 Gy (see ref. 42 for further methodological details). e, pIR-IRSL intensity and shine down from red-diode stimulation for 250 s at 270 °C, displaying the natural curve and a regenerative dose for comparison. f, pIR-IRSL sensitivity corrected dose–response providing a De of 103 ± 9 Gy. g, The De values of the 22 aliquots of feldspars plotted on a radial plot. Each aliquot was corrected for minor fading and residual dose and was plotted producing an overdispersion of 17.6%. Prior to running the minimum age model a value of 10% was added to the errors as an estimation of inherent overdispersion within the grains. This was determined by estimating the distribution of De values of 12 aliquots after a 4 h bleaching period in a solar simulator. The minimum age model produced a De of 105 ± 3 Gy as depicted by a solid black line, which lies within ±10% of the Central age (shaded box), owing to the low overdispersion. This produces an age estimate of 62 ± 5 kyr. h, Fading tests for the Lida Ajer feldspars comparing the IR50 measurement with a g value of 17.67 with the pIR-IRSL270 measurement, which has reduced the g value to 1.74.

Extended Data Figure 8 The fossil faunal teeth from Lida Ajer sampled for U-series dating.

a, 7/LA/5/08, a molar of siamang gibbon sp., sampled during our excavations. b, Sample 12/LA/5/08, a premolar of Pongo sp., sampled during our excavations. c, 13/LA/5/08, a molar of Pongo sp., sampled during our excavations. d, Dubois 9967A, a Pongo sp. molar from Dubois’s original excavation—borrowed from the Naturalis Museum in the Netherlands. e–h, U-series profiling tracks on the 4 fossil teeth (7-, 12-, 13-, and 21/LA/5/08). i, Example of the best fit D–A (diffusion–absorption model) date profile for sample 13/LA/5/08 (with 4/8 = 1.066, t′ = 1.0) demonstrating that the age estimate fits the model at around 55 kyr. The possibility of delayed uptake of uranium and the absence of evidence for uranium leaching means that this should be treated as a minimum age. The U-series profiles from other teeth did not fit well with the predictions of the D–A model owing to complex U-uptake (and potentially U-loss) processes in the sampled teeth.

Extended Data Figure 9 ESR dating of two Fossil Pongo teeth 12/LA/5/08 (orange) and 13/LA/5/08 (blue).

a, ESR dose equivalent (De) calculation. Top, Markov Chain Monte-Carlo fitted dose–reponse curve for each of the samples, using McDoseE 2.0 with a single saturating exponential function and 100,000 iterations. Bottom, ESR dose equivalent distribution of the Markov Chain Monte-Carlo model with McDoseE 2.0. b, Uranium uptake model in the different tissues used for the U-series/ESR age calculation. c, Table summarizing the U-series values (averaged) obtained by LA-MC-ICPMS on the ESR fragment and dentine directly in contact (EDJ) and used in the coupled U-series/ESR age model. No ages were calculated for U concentration <1 p.p.m. or U/Th ratio <500. d, Sample 13/LA/5/08. e, Sample 12/LA/5/08.

Extended Data Figure 10 Lida Ajer fossil chamber; new modelled chronology.

a, Photograph of the fossil chamber, showing the location and structure of the breccia and flowstone units. b, Annotated photograph of the fossil chamber with the sampling locations and dating results found in Supplementary Tables 7, 8, 11. c, Bayesian analysis of the red thermoluminescence, U-series and coupled U-series/ESR dating results to construct the new modelled chronology for Lida Ajer. The photograph on the left (taken from the dashed box in a) depicts the boundaries between the underlying flowstone, the breccia deposit and overlying flowstone units. Note: the red thermoluminescence and ESR error on the age estimates are presented at 1σ, while the U-series errors have been presented at 2σ. The main figure uses all the available data, while inset A uses only the breccia data (from the red thermoluminescence and pIR-IRSL dating of the breccia matrix and U-series dating of the flowstones and soda straw) and inset B uses only the fossil tooth data (from U-series age depth modelling and coupled U-series/ESR dating of the teeth directly).

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains SI sections 1-8.

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Westaway, K., Louys, J., Awe, R. et al. An early modern human presence in Sumatra 73,000–63,000 years ago. Nature 548, 322–325 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23452

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.