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CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY ON CHINESE HUMAN FOSSILS TO PALEOANTHROPOLOGY

Wu Xinzhi(Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044)  
The first great constribution of the study of Chinese human fossils topaleoanthropology has been fulfilled by the Homo erectus fossils from Zhoukoudian(then Sinanthropus pekinaensis). In the first half of mis century the definition "Manthe tool maker" was universally adopted in the field of human paleontology. Before1930s Pithecanthropus erectus found in Java was not accepted into the human familybecause his brain capacity is smaller than the lowest limit of any normal member ofmodern humans and there is no adefacts found in association with these primatefossils. The discovery of stone artefacts in association with the fossil skull ofSinanthropus indicated that a member of primates with a brain volume smaller than1 000cc could be a member of humans. This new finding made the Homo erectusfrom Java (then Pithecanthropus erectus) being accepted intO the family of hominidbecause the skulls found at Zhoukoudian and in Java are similar in morphology. Andalso the Zhoukoudian findings greatly expanded the human fossil record to about0.50Ma B.P.Since 1960s the ancestral statUs of Homo erectus has been challanged by newstudies in paleoanthropology such as the study on Homo habilis, cladistic studies inpaleoanthropology and the molecular anthropology. The study of Homo habilis madeLSB Leakey and others claim that thes species is the ancestor of modern humans andHomo erectas is an aberrant extinct branch in human evolution. According to somepaleoanthropologists who tried to apply cladistics to this field Homo erectus has aseries of derived characters, so it is not the ancestor of Homo sapiens but is anaberrant extinct branch. The new molecular study on DNA since 1987 formulated theso-called Eve theory which advocates that modem htmans originated from a smallpopulation living in Africa about 0.20Ma B.P., part of their descendants migrated toChina in the Period betWeen 0.1 and 0.05Ma B.P., then replaced all of the indigenousPeople in this region. Therefore all of the fossil humans of China before that bineleft no descendants and modern Chinese is derived from the African "Eve".Studies of newly found human fossils in China after 1949 show a series ofcommon featUres among them such as shovel shaped incisor, flatness of the faceincluding the nasal saddle, more forward facing of the antero-lateral surface of thefronto-sphenoidal process of zygomatic bone, sagittal ridge etc. The fossils also showthat many so-called derived characters or autapomorphies of Homo erectus such asthick cramal bones, angular torns, brow ridge, exaggerated post-orbital constriction etcare not uniquely shown in Homo erectus, they can be also found in Homo sap lensfossils of China and some so-called sapiens features such as high temperal squama,curved superior border of it higher cramal index etc exist also in some cases ofHomo erectus of China. This mosaic phenomenon betWeen the morphology of thesetwo species and the common features among the human fossils in China indicate thecontinuity in the human evolution of this area. The appearance of a fewmorphological features such as the chignon-like structure existing in Liujiang, Lijiangand Ziyang sap lens skulls, circular shaped orbit acute border of the infero-lateral partof the orbit shown in Maba sapiens skull-cap etc is especially worthy to be noted,because these features have not been found in other Chinese fossils but are typical forNeanderthal lineage. T'his indicates the probable existence of gene flow between Chinaand western part of the Old World.All of the above mentioned results of stUdy provide a basis for the proposal of anew model entitled "Contininty with hybridization" summarizing the complex processof human evolution in China. ms is an important contribution to the "Multiregionalevolution hypothesis" which is one of the two main hypotheses in the debate ofmodern human origins which has been one of the hotest fool in paleoanthropology inthe recent decade.The studies of Chinese fossils based on the coefficients of divergence amongfossil skulls of late Homo sapiens from Liujiang, Minatogawa (in Japan),
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