New findings show human activity 10,000 years ago on Tibetan Plateau, the adaptation ground for Ice Age fauna

New archaeological findings in Tibet indicate prehistoric human activities. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Jan14’22) – Latest archaeological findings have indicated prehistoric human activity in western Tibet dating back 8,000 to 10,000 years, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 13, citing the country’s National Cultural Heritage Administration Jan 13. Also, fossils discovered by an international team of palaeontologists suggest that the high-altitude environments of the Tibetan Plateau and other regions of the Himalayan mountains may have been the evolutionary proving ground for adaptation of fauna that lived during the Ice Age, reported the Jan 14.

The Xinhua report said that at a prehistoric site in Ngari Prefecture, archaeologists had discovered continuous stratigraphic accumulations and unearthed over 5,000 pieces of relics, including a large quantity of stoneware, a small number of animal bones, and burnt stones, as well as fire and ash pits.

The report said Two types of stoneware-making technology discovered at the site indicated human activity during two historical periods.

Systematic excavation at the site was stated to have filled the vacuum of prehistoric archaeological culture dating back 8,000 to 10,000 years in the hinterland of the Tibetan Plateau.

Also, a prehistoric settlement site dating back about 4,000 years, was reported to have been discovered in the city of Shigatse.

Traces of human activity found there were stated to include tombs, fireplaces, and ash pits, along with pieces of stoneware and pottery, bone artifacts, and ornamental beads.

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Meanwhile, fossils discovered by an international team of paleontologists led by Xiaoming Wang of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was stated to support the new concept of mammal evolution.

The new theory that the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayan Mountains may have been the evolutionary proving ground for adaptation of fauna that lived during the Ice Age is largely based on the discovery of Vulpes qiuzhudingi, a Tibetan fox, in the Himalayas in 2010, said the report.

The remains are between three and five million years of age. Genetic analysis indicates the fossil fox is a direct ancestor of the modern Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). The fossils were discovered in the sediments of the Zanda (Tibetan: Tsamda) Basin in western Tibet. The area once bordered an ancient lake and has produced a multitude of high altitude fossils, the report said.

The researchers were also stated to have discovered fossils of a three-toed horse, woolly rhino, snow leopard, blue sheep, antelope and 23 other extinct species that can be directly related to Ice Age mammals and some modern Arctic species.

The finds indicate that many of the most well-known Ice Age animals like the mammoth may have originated in Tibet and the Himalayas. The cold climate and the altitude prepared the animals for survival in the Ice Age through eons of adaptation, with those failing to adapt becoming extinct, the report said.

The various Ice Ages on Earth had lasted 2.5 million years. At the beginning of the Ice Age the continents of the Earth were connected. The animals that adapted in Tibet to cold could have migrated to other regions of the world during warm periods and survived, the researchers have suggested.


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