A sample of artifacts from the Middle Palaeolithic era. Picture: Kumar Akhilesh, Shanti Pappu/Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, India via AP

Johannesburg - Scientists say they've found the earliest known evidence of a human presence outside Africa after stone tools discovered in China by a Chinese-British team suggested primitive humans - or a close relative - were in the region as early as 2.12 million years ago, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The stone artifacts, which were discovered in Shangchen on a plateau in northern China, are about 270 000 years older than the previous earliest evidence, which consisted of bones and tools from Dmanisi in Georgia.

The discovery includes a variety of different types of stone tools which were constructed for a variety of purposes - with all showing signs of having been used. Most were made of quartzite and quartz rock that probably came from the foothills of the Qinling Mountains, five to 10 km to the south of the dig site.

It remains unclear which species of human relative created the implements.

African News Agency (ANA)