PRESENT STATUS OF CHINESE PALEOANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES
Wu Rukang (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
The most important fossils from Miocene apes to Homo habilis found in China are Lufengpithecus and Gigantopithecus.As to Lufengpithecus, five crania, ten mandibles, more than 650 isolated teeth and a few limb bones were discovered in coalfields in Lufeng County, Yunnan Province and their age is estimated by the associated fauna to be 8-7Ma B.P. They have some features similar to Orangutan on the one hand and some features similar to the African apes and Australopithecines on the other hand. Lufengpithecus is probably close to the common ancestor of apes and humans.Three mandibles and more than one thousand isolated teeth of Gigantopithecus were found from Guangdong, Guangxi and Hubei of China.It seems to be an extinct side branch of the specialized giant ape.The present author believes that a transitional period should exist between ancient ape and human. This period begins with upright posture and ends with the making of tools accompanied with the formation of human society. It can be conceived that self-consciousness and speech should emerge before tool-making. In this period the creature or "pre-human" can walk upright,constantly use natural wood sticks or stones to get foods and defend itself, and live a primitive grouping life with promiscuous sexual relations.Important Homo erectus fossils were found in Zhoukoudian, Beijing;Yuanmou,Yunnan Province; Lantian, Shaanxi Province and Hexian, Anhui Province. Whether the crania from Yunxian, Hubei Province and from Tangshan near Nanking are Homo erectus remain to be confirmed.Important early Homo sapiens fossils were found in Dan,Shaanxi Province;Jinniushan, Yingkou County, Liaoning Province; Maba, Guangdong Province; and Dingcun and Xujiayao, Shanxi Province. important late Homo sapiens fossils were found in Liujiang, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Tzeyang, Szechuan Province ;and the Upper Cave ,Zhoukoudian,Beijing .All human fossils from Homo erectus through early Hoo sapiens to late Homo sapiens found in China share some common morphological features,indicating a continuous development of Homo erectus to modern chineses,Two hypotheses on the origin of modern humans have disputed for a long time:the regional contiumuity hypothesis and the replacement hypothesis .Recent molecular evidence supports the replacement hypoth fundus syooirt the multi-regional hypothesis.Whether modern humankind is still evolving ?It is an intetresig qestion If so,how is it evolving ?With recent advances of science and technology ,the present author put forward two aspects of evolution :extra -body evolution and spiritual evolution.