Ancient site could be site of oldest known early human fossils in China

Ancient site could be site of oldest known early human fossils in China

Ancient site could be site of oldest known early human fossils in China

An international team of researchers has written a study claiming they may have discovered the oldest human fossil in China.

Researchers at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Spain, as part of a team of Chinese, Spanish and French scientists, have just published the study on what may be the oldest known human fossil in the country.

The researchers used X-ray microcomputed tomography techniques, geometric morphometry and classical morphology to examine the remains of the maxilla and five cranial teeth from the Chinese site of Gongwangling.

Maxilla and teeth of the skull of Gongwangling
The researchers used X-ray microcomputed tomography techniques, geometric morphometry and classical morphology to examine the remains of the maxilla and five cranial teeth from the Chinese site of Gongwangling.
Xing Song, CENIEH/Zenger

The researchers said in a CENIEH statement released Monday: “This deposit is located in the vast plains on the northern slopes of the Quinling Mountains in Shaanxi Province, central China, and was discovered in 1963 by scientist Woo Ju- kang.

The age of the site was reassessed in 2015 through paleomagnetism studies in the region. The data suggests Gongwangling’s remains date back to just over 1.6 million years ago, so they could belong to one of the first people to colonize the present state of China.”

According to the study, there are similarities between the Gongwangling teeth and those of the other more recent Chinese sites of Meipu and Quyuan River Mouth. But they added that there was also “some variability, indicating some diversity of the populations of” homo erectus that colonized Asia during the Pleistocene.”

The Pleistocene or Ice Age lasted from 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago and was known for the various advancements and retreats of continental glaciers.

Hominid Australopithecus afarensis
An international team of researchers has written a study claiming they may have discovered the oldest human fossil in China. This photo shows a sculptor’s rendering of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis as part of an exhibit that features the 3.2-million-year-old fossilized remains of “Lucy,” the most complete example of the species, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, August 28, 2007, in Houston, Texas.
Dave Einsel/Getty Images

The CENIEH statement also said: “The importance of this new work lies in the lack of information about the early colonization of Asia. The Dmanisi site (Republic of Georgia) has provided very important evidence about the first inhabitants of Asia, who came from Africa. came about two million years ago.

Reconstruction of a prehistoric caveman
Portrait of a reconstruction of a prehistoric caveman at the Chicago Field Museum.
Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“But much information is missing to connect Dmanisi with the classical homo erectus populations of China (Hexian, Yiyuan, Xichuan, or Zhoukoudian), who lived on this large landmass between 400,000 and 800,000 years ago.”

José María Bermúdez de Castro, the coordinator of the CENIEH paleobiology program, is quoted as saying, “The Gongwangling site fills this vast span of time and suggests that Asia could have been populated by successive populations of the homo erectus species at different times in the Pleistocene.”

The statement also said that the Gongwangling skull “has all the features described in Homo erectus: a low and very elongated skull, with very thick bones, protecting a brain of about 780 cubic centimeters; strongly sloping frontally, with very distinct superciliary arches and form a kind of double-curved visor above the eyes […]†

The study is published in the July 2022 issue of the Journal of Human Evolution† It was written by Lei Pan, Clement Zanolli, Maria Martinon-Torres, Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro, Laura Martin-Frances, Song Xing and Wu Liu.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.