The Comparisons of Cranial Non-metric Features between Upper Cave Skulls and Modern North Chinese Populations, and Late Pleistocene Human Evolution in China
LIU Wu1,HE Jia-ning2,WU Xiu-jie 1,3,LU Jin-yan 1,3(1. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044; 2. Department of Archaeology, Beijing University, Beijing 100039;3. Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039)
The human remains recovered from Upper Cave at Zhoukoudian are the richest and best preserved late Pleistocene human fossils ever found in east Asia. For decades, as the representative of the late Pleistocene human in east Asia, the Upper Cave skulls have played an important role in research on the origins of modern Mongoloids and American Indians. Recently, more attention has been paid to the details and mechanisms for late Pleistocene human evolution and the formation of modern human populations. Both the origin and diversification of modern humans have been stressed in research. Some studies further the debates on the evolutionary position of Upper Cave Man and this group's role in the formation of modern human populations in east Asia. To further explore these problems, we examined and compared 12 non-metric features on three Upper Cave skulls and modern Chinese unearthed from two archaeological sites in North China. Our results indicate that 8 features are expressed differently between Upper Cave Man and modern Chinese. We believe that more primitive characteristics define Upper Cave Man when compared to modern Chinese populations. These findings and some problems on late Pleistocene human evolution including intra-group variation and the standard for modern human populations, are discussed.