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20 December 2017
Early humans in the jungles of Borneo

A team excavating at Niah Caves in Malaysia recently uncovered stone tools, charred rocks, several human bones, marine oyster shells, and the remains of large mammals from various layers in two pits dug at Traders Cave - a 190 metre long, 30 metre wide and up to 15 metre high rock shelter outside of the main cave complex.
     Niah Caves National Park is on the northern coast of Borneo, an equatorial island covered mostly by dense rainforest. Human occupation there goes back at least 46,000 years. Almost 40 indigenous linguistic or cultural groups live on the island, from which people long ago began island hopping across Southeast Asia, eventually settling New Guinea and Australia.
     The massive Niah Caves complex sits within a large limestone hill. There are 21 caves in the main network, with 6 large entrances. Parts of the largest cave are more than 60 metres high.
     Researchers estimate the Traders Cave deposits are mostly 20,000 years old or more. A team will return next year to deepen and widen the more productive first pit, and date the various finds and sediments.

Edited from PhysOrg (15 December 2017)

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