Peking Man

Peking Man

name = Peking Man
fossil_range = Pleistocene

image_caption = First cranium of "Homo erectus pekinensis" ("Sinathropus pekinensis") discovered in 1929 in Zhoukoudian, today missing (replica)
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
subphylum = Vertebrata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Primates
familia = Hominidae
genus = "Homo"
species = "H. erectus"
subspecies = "H. e. pekinensis"
trinomial = "Homo erectus pekinensis"
trinomial_authority = (Black, 1927)
synonyms = "Sinanthropus pekinensis"

Peking Man (now in pinyin as Beijing Man), also called "Sinanthropus pekinensis" (currently "Homo erectus pekinensis"), is an example of "Homo erectus". A group of fossil specimens was discovered in 1923-27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian (Chou K'ou-tien) near Beijing (Peking), China. More recently, the finds have been dated from roughly 500,000 years ago. [cite journal | title = Out of Africa again...and again? | author = Ian Tattersall | volume = 276 | issue = 4 | pages = 60–68 | journal = Scientific American]

Discovery and identification

Swedish geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson and American palaeontologist Walter W. Granger came to Zhoukoudian, China in search of prehistoric fossils in 1921. They were directed to the site at Dragon Bone Hill by local quarry men, where Andersson recognised deposits of quartz that were not native to the area. Immediately realising the importance of this find he turned to his colleague and announced, "“Here is primitive man, now all we have to do is find him!”"cite news | first = | last = | authorlink = | author = | coauthors = | title = The First Knock at the Door| url = | format = | work = | publisher = Peking Man Site Museum | pages = | page = | date = | accessdate = | quote = In the summer of 1921, Dr. J.G. Andersson and his companions discovered this richly fossiliferous deposit through the local quarry men’s guide. During examination he was surprised to notice some fragments of white quartz in tabus, a mineral normally foreign in that locality. The significance of this occurrence immediately suggested itself to him and turning to his companions, he exclaimed dramatically “Here is primitive man, now all we have to do is find him!”]

Excavation work was begun immediately by Andersson's assistant Austrian palaeontologist Otto Zdansky, who found what appeared to be a fossilised human
molar. He returned to the site in 1923 and materials excavated in the two digs were sent back to Uppsala University in Sweden for analysis. In 1926 Andersson announced the discovery of two human molars found in this material and Zdansky published his findings.cite news | first = | last = | authorlink = | author = | coauthors = | title = The First Knock at the Door| url = | format = | work = | publisher = Peking Man Site Museum | pages = | page = | date = | accessdate = | quote = For some weeks in this summer and a longer period in 1923 Dr. Otto Zdansky carried on excavations of this cave site. He accumulated an extensive collection of fossil material, including two Homo erectus teeth that were recognized in 1926. So, the cave home of Peking Man was opened to the world.]

Canadian anatomist Davidson Black of Peking Union Medical College, excited by Andersson and Zdansky’s find, secured funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and recommenced excavations at the site in 1927 with both Western and Chinese scientists. A tooth was unearthed that fall by Swedish palaeontologist Anders Birger Bohlin which Davidson places in a locket around his neck.

Davidson published his analysis in the journal "Nature", identifying his find as belonging to a new species and genus which he named "Sinanthropus pekinensis", but many fellow scientist were sceptical of such an identification based on a single tooth and the Foundation demanded more specimens before they would give an addition grant.cite web | url = | title = Morgan Lucas]

A lower jaw, several teeth and a skull fragments were unearthed in 1928. Black presented these finds to the Foundation and was rewarded with an $80,000 grant that he used to establish the Cenozoic Research Laboratory.

Excavations at the site from under the supervision of Chinese archaeologists Yang Zhongjian, Pei Wenzhong and Jia Lanpo uncovered 200 human fossils (including 6 nearly complete skullcaps) from more than 40 individual specimens. These excavation came to an end in 1937 with the Japanese occupation.

Fossils of the Peking Man were placed in the safe at the Cenozoic Research Laboratory of the Peking Union Medical College. Eventually, in November 1941, secretary Hu Chengzi packed up the fossils so they could be sent to USA for safekeeping until the end of the war. They vanished en route to the port city of Qinghuangdao. They were probably in possession of a group of US marines whom the Japanese captured when the war began between Japan and USA.

Various parties have tried to locate the fossils but, so far, without result. In 1972, a US financier Christopher Janus promised a $5,000 (U.S.) reward for the missing skulls; one woman contacted him, asking for $500,000 (U.S.) but she later vanished. In July 2005, the Chinese government founded a committee to find the bones to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

There are also various theories of what might have happened, including a theory that the bones had sunk with a Japanese ship "Awa Maru" in 1945.Fact|date=October 2007

ubsequent Research

Excavations at Zhoukoudian resumed after the war, and parts of another skull were found in 1966. To date a number of other partial fossil remains have been found. The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987. [cite web | url = | title = Unesco description of the Zhoukoudian site]

Paleontological conclusions

The first specimens of "Homo erectus" had been found in Java in 1891 by Eugene Dubois, but were dismissed by many as the remains of a deformed ape. The discovery of the great quantity of finds at Zhoukoudian put this to rest and Java Man, who had initially being named "Pithecanthropus erectus", was transferred to the genus "Homo" along with Peking Man.cite web | url = | title = Archaeology: Peking Man, still missing and missed | accessdate = April 20 | accessdaymonth = | accessmonthday = | accessyear = 2008 | author = | last = Melvin | first = Sheila | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = October 11 | year = 2005 | month = | format = | work = | publisher = International Herald Tribune | pages = | doi = | archiveurl = | archivedate = | quote = The discovery also settled a controversy as to whether the bones of Java Man - found in 1891 - belonged to a human ancestor. Doubters had argued that they were the remains of a deformed ape, but the finding of so many similar fossils at Dragon Bone Hill silenced such speculation and became a central element in the modern interpretation of human evolution.]

Contiguous findings of animal remains and evidence of fire and tool usage, as well as the manufacturing of tools, were used to support "H. erectus" being the first "faber" or tool-worker. The analysis of the remains of "Peking Man" led to the claim that the Zhoukoudian and Java fossils were examples of the same broad stage of human evolution. This is also the official view of the Chinese Communist Party.Fact|date=September 2008

This interpretation was challenged in 1985 by Lewis Binford, who claimed that the Peking Man was a scavenger, not a hunter. The 1998 team of Steve Weiner of the Weizmann Institute of Science concluded that they had not found evidence that the Peking Man had used fire.Fact|date=September 2008

Relation to modern Chinese people

Some Chinese paleoanthropologists have asserted in the past that the modern Chinese are descendants of the Peking Man. However, modern genetic research does not support this hypothesis. A recent study undertaken by Chinese geneticist Jin Li showed that there was no inter-breeding between modern human immigrants to East Asia and "Homo erectus", contradicting the Peking Man hypothesis and affirming that the Chinese descended from Africans in accordance with the Recent single-origin hypothesis. [cite journal | url = | title = Distribution of haplotypes from a chromosome 21 region distinguishes multiple prehistoric human migrations | author = Jin et al. | volume = 96 | issue = 7 | pages = 3796 | journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences | doi = 10.1073/pnas.96.7.3796 | year = 1999 | pmid = 10097117] [cite web | url = | title = multiregional or single origin] [cite web | url = | title = mapping human history p130-131] However, some paleontologists see continuity in skeletal remains. [cite journal | doi = 10.1073/pnas.0702169104 | title = An early modern human from Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, China | author = Shang et al. | volume = 104 | issue = 16 | pages = 6573 | journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences | year = 1999 | pmid = 17416672]

Popular culture

*The disappearance of Peking Man's remains, and speculation of where they ended up, is the plot of 1975-01-07 episode Season 7, Episode 160 of "Hawaii Five-O", "Bones of Contention". [;title;159]

*Canadian science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer won an Aurora Award for his 1996 short story "Peking Man," which connects the lost bones to the Dracula legend; the story first appeared in the anthology "Dark Destiny III: Children of Dracula" edited by Edward E. Kramer, and is reprinted in Sawyer's collection "Iterations".
*The discovery of Peking Man is referred to in the book "The Bonesetter's Daughter" by Amy Tan.

*Peking Man is part of the central plot in the mystery "Sleeping Bones" by Katherine V. Forrest.

*A Peking Man fossil is among those which can be found in the Nintendo DS video game .

*Peking Man is part of the central plot of Philip K. Dick's "The Crack In Space".

*Peking Man's bones is the subject of an episode of the Japanese Anime "Lupin the 3rd" titled: Jumping the Bones

*Peking Man is part of the plot of Clive Cussler's "Flood Tide"

*Peking Man is the main part of the central plot of Carolyn G. Hart's mystery novel "Skulduggery", set in San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1980s. ISBN 0-7862-2672-2

*The mystery of the missing Peking Man fossils is central to the 1999 novel "Lost in Translation", by Nicole Mones.

*Sega and Vivarium Inc.'s "Seaman 2 Peking Genjin no Ikusei Kit" (Peking Man Growth Kit) for the PlayStation 2 will let players interact with a 20 centimeter tall Peking Man clone.

ee also

* Zhoukoudian
* List of fossil sites "(with link directory)"
* List of hominina (hominid) fossils "(with images)"

Further reading

* Jia, Lanpo, Huang, Weiwen. "The Story of Peking Man: From Archaeology to Mystery". Oxford University Press, USA, 1990.

* Sautman, B. “Peking man and the politics of paleoanthropological nationalism in China.” "The Journal of Asian Studies" 60, no. 1 (2001): 95-124.

* Schmalzer, Sigrid, "The People's Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-Century China". The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

* Wu, R., and S. Lin. “Peking Man.” "Scientific American" 248, no. 6 (1983): 86-94.

* Jake Hooker - "The Search for the Peking Man" "Archaeology" magazine March/April 2006)


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Peking man — n. a type of early human (Homo erectus pekinensis) of the Middle Pleistocene age, known from fossil remains found near Beijing (Peking), China …   English World dictionary

  • Peking man — the skeletal remains of Homo erectus, formerly classified as Sinanthropus pekinensis, found at Zhoukoudian, near Peking, China, in the late 1930s and early 1940s and subsequently lost during World War II. * * * ▪ anthropology  extinct hominin of… …   Universalium

  • Peking man — n. fossils remains of an extinct form of human (Pithecanthropus) which were found near Peking (China) in the late 1930s and early 1940s (and afterwards wer lost during WWII); primitive man found near Peking …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Peking man — /ˈpikɪŋ mæn/ (say peeking man) noun a variety of Homo erectus, Homo erectus pekinensis, known from fossil remains found near Peking (now Beijing), China; first remains found in 1921 …   Australian English dictionary

  • Peking man — noun Date: 1926 an extinct Pleistocene hominid known from skeletal and cultural remains in cave deposits at Zhoukoudianzhen, China and classified with the direct ancestor (Homo erectus) of modern humans …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Peking man — noun fossils found near Beijing, China; they were lost during World War II • Hypernyms: ↑Homo erectus …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Mighty Peking Man — Hong Kong theatrical poster featuring Evelyn Kraft Directed by Ho Meng hua Produced by …   Wikipedia

  • Man — n. & v. n. (pl. men) 1 an adult human male, esp. as distinct from a woman or boy. 2 a a human being; a person (no man is perfect). b human beings in general; the human race (man is mortal). 3 a person showing characteristics associated with males …   Useful english dictionary

  • man — n. & v. n. (pl. men) 1 an adult human male, esp. as distinct from a woman or boy. 2 a a human being; a person (no man is perfect). b human beings in general; the human race (man is mortal). 3 a person showing characteristics associated with males …   Useful english dictionary

  • man — Synonyms and related words: Achilles, Adam, Adamite, Australanthropus, Australopithecus, Barbary ape, Casanova, Chiroptera, Cro Magnon man, David, Don Juan, Galley Hill man, Gigantopithecus, Grimaldi man, Hector, Heidelberg man, Hominidae, Homo… …   Moby Thesaurus

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