Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New hominin site found in China

A joint team from Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, and Office for Cultural Relics Administration of Daoxian County, unearthed five hominin teeth and a large number of mammalian fossils from the Fuyan Cave site in Daoxian County, Hunan Province of China during an excavation carried out in September and October, 2011.

Researchers announced their finding in the latest issue of Acta Anthropologica Sinica 2013, providing new data for the study of human evolution and adaptive behaviour in South China.

Fuyan Cave site, also called Houbeishan cave by local farmers, was initially discovered in 1984.

Teeth similar to Homo sapiens

This excavation was carried out in two trenches in an area of total 20m2. Five hominin teeth and large number of mammalian fossils were unearthed. The general morphological characteristics of the five hominin teeth is quite similar to those of Homo sapiens, and the size of these teeth all falls into the tooth size variation of Chinese modern humans. Thirty nine mammalian species, including some undetermined species, have been recognized, and only a few of them are extinct, e.g. Ailuropoda baconi, Crocuta ultima, Stegodon orientalis, Megatapirus augustus and Sus cf. Australis.

Occupation in Late Pleistocene

Preliminary U-series dating shows that the sediments were formed after 141700±12100 years, and the general feature of the mammalian fauna suggests a late Late Pleistocene age. Therefore, researchers inferred that hominin probably occupied the cave in the Late Pleistocene.

“Our excavation shows the cave has great potential perspectives. Further excavation and laboratory study of cave development, filling sequence, hominin teeth morphology, dating, and environmental change from the Fuyan Cave as well as some adjacent caves will help better understand the human evolution and adaptive behaviour in Southwest Hunan, east Guangxi, and north Guangdong”, said corresponding author Dr. PEI Shuwen of the IVPP.

Past Horizons. 2013. “New hominin site found in China”. Past Horizons. Posted: May 13, 2013. Available online: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/05/2013/new-hominin-site-found-in-china

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