The 47 fossil human teeth recovered from a southern Chinese cave might just rewrite the history of human migration out of Africa.

Previously, it was believed that modern humans left Africa for Europe only 50,000 years ago. However, the team of scientists who discovered the fossil teeth believe that humans left Africa and trekked into China between 80,000 and 120,000 years ago.

The fossil teeth were recovered by the scientists at the Fuyan Cave site in the Hunan Province's Daoxian County. The study, published in the journal Nature, states that modern human species existed in China 30,000 to 70,000 earlier than in the Europe or eastern Mediterranean.

It is a known fact that modern humans first appeared in East Africa around 200,000 years ago. The members of the Homo Sapiens then migrated themselves to other parts of the world. However, the timing and location of the migration pattern of the species have always been unclear to the scientists.

Paleoanthropologist María Martinón-Torres of the University College London told Reuters that the discovery of the fossil teeth from southern China suggest that the migration of modern humans took place in southern China thousands of years before colonising Europe. The researchers believe that the humans might have colonised China first because of the presence of Neanderthals in Europe and the cold climatic conditions in the area.

Martinón-Torres further revealed that the age of the teeth is twice as old as the age of the earliest humans in Europe. The authors of the study believe that the teeth belong to the humans that migrated from Africa and not the ones who evolved from some other species of early man.

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