"Peking Man", Homo erectus (was Sinanthropus pekinensis)
Between 1929 and 1937, 14 partial craniums, 11 lower jaws, many teeth, some
skeletal bones and large numbers of stone tools were discovered in the
Lower Cave at Locality 1 of the Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian, near
Beijing, in China. Their age is estimated to be between 500,000 and
300,000 years old. (A number of fossils of modern humans were
also discovered in the Upper Cave at the same site in 1933.) The
most complete fossils, all of which were braincases or skullcaps,
- Skull III, discovered at Locus E in 1929 is an adolescent
or juvenile with a brain size of 915 cc.
- Skull II, discovered at Locus D in 1929 but only
recognized in 1930, is an adult or adolescent with a
brain size of 1030 cc.
- Skulls X, XI and XII (sometimes called LI, LII and LIII)
were discovered at Locus L in 1936. They are thought to
belong to an adult man, an adult woman and a young adult,
with brain sizes of 1225 cc, 1015 cc and 1030 cc
respectively. (Weidenreich 1937)
- Skull V: two cranial fragments were discovered in 1966
which fit with (casts of) two other fragments found in
1934 and 1936 to form much of a skullcap with a brain
size of 1140 cc. These pieces were found at a higher
level, and appear to be more modern than the other
skullcaps. (Jia and Huang 1990) (Creationist
Most of the study on these fossils was done by Davidson Black until his death in 1934. Franz Weidenreich replaced him and
studied the fossils until leaving China in 1941. The original
fossils disappeared in 1941 while being shipped to the United
States for safety during World War II, but excellent casts and
descriptions remain. Since the war, other erectus fossils
have been found at this site and others in China.
The illustration above is of a reconstruction done
by Franz Weidenreich, based
on bones from at least four different
individuals (none of the fossils were this complete).
Most creationists have considered the Peking Man fossils to be those of
apes, or, even more improbably, monkeys,
but in recent years the view of Lubenow that they were humans has been gaining ground.
Creationist arguments about Peking Man
Compare Peking Man with Homo erectus
for Human Evolution in China (lots of excellent material, including
a page with pictures and descriptions of some of the Peking Man fossils)
Peking Man World Heritage Site
This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.
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