Thursday, November 15, 2007


Chinese archaeologists said they have found fossilized remains of a primitive human species that lived about 2.04 million years ago in the Three Gorges Area in Southwest China, the earliest ever found in the country.

The findings, including a lower jawbone fragment, an incisor and more than 230 pieces of stone tools, prove that what is called Wushan man was more than 300,000 years older than Yuanmou man, which was discovered in southwestern Yunnan Province in the 1960s and previously recognized as China's earliest human species.

An expert team led by Huang Wanbo, a professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reached the conclusion after more than two decades of excavation at the Longgupo Site in Wushan County in Chongqing Municipality.

Huang said his team unearthed the human fossils during their first excavation, from 1985 to 1988. In the same stratigraphic interval, they also discovered fossils of 120 species of vertebrates, including 116 mammals, and a large number of stone artifacts. Huang's team conducted two excavations from 1997 to 1999 and from 2003 to 2006 at the Longgupo Site with partners from Britain, Canada and France.

They found more stone tools and animal fossils dating back 2 million years in the same stratigraphic interval in which Wushan Man fossils were found before, and also in the upper layers.

The Three Gorges area was once an expanse of hilly land with luxuriant vegetation and a warm, humid climate in which various vertebrates and mammals lived and thrived. "It was just in such a natural environment that Wushan Man led a primitive life by hunting and gathering. When night fell, the inhabitants returned to the Longgupo Cave, enjoying the fruits of their day's labor," said Huang.


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