Balangoda Man

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Balangoda Man

Balangoda Man (Homo sapiens balangodensis[1]) refers to hominins from Sri Lanka's late Quaternary period.[2] The term was initially coined to refer to anatomically modern Homo sapiens from sites near Balangoda that were responsible for the island's Mesolithic 'Balangoda Culture'.[2][3] The earliest evidence of Balangoda Man from archaeological sequences at caves and other sites dates back to 38,000 BP,[4] and from excavated skeletal remains to 30,000 BP, which is also the earliest reliably dated record of anatomically modern humans in South Asia.[5][6][7] Cultural remains discovered alongside the skeletal fragments include geometric microliths dating to 28,500 BP, which together with some sites in Africa is the earliest record of such stone tools.[2][6]

Other discoveries include various plants and animals that are thought to have formed part of their diet, e.g. wild banana, breadfruit, and fish bones, and articles that were used as personal ornaments such as shell pendants and shark beads, indicating occasional contact with the coast around 40 km away.[4] It is also likely that Balangoda Man visited Horton Plains in the central highlands of Sri Lanka during their annual cycle of gathering foods such as cereals, and hunting animals, most likely wild cattle, sambur, and deer.[4]

Balangoda Man is estimated to have had thick skulls, prominent supraorbital ridges, depressed noses, heavy jaws, short necks and conspicuously large teeth.[2][8] Metrical and morphometric features of skeletal fragments extracted from cave sites that were occupied during different periods have indicated a rare biological affinity over a time frame of roughly 16,000 years, and the likelihood of a biological continuum to the present-day Vedda indigenous people.[9]