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Author Topic: China's Earliest Modern Human  (Read 129 times)
Description: An early modern human from Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian
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« on: April 08, 2007, 03:42:15 PM »

A mandible from a 40,000-year-old early modern human skeleton found in China. (Credit: Erik Trinkaus)

An early modern human from Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, China
Hong Shang *, Haowen Tong *, Shuangquan Zhang *, Fuyou Chen *, and Erik Trinkaus 
*Department of Paleoanthropology, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 142 Xi-Zhi-Men-Wai Street, Beijing 100044, China; and Department of Anthropology, Campus Box 1114, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130

Contributed by Erik Trinkaus, March 8, 2007 (sent for review February 16, 2007)

Thirty-four elements of an early modern human (EMH) were found in Tianyuan Cave, Zhoukoudian, China in 2003. Dated to 42,000-39,000 calendrical years before present by using direct accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon, the Tianyuan 1 skeleton is among the oldest directly dated EMHs in eastern Eurasia. Morphological comparison shows Tianyuan 1 to have a series of derived modern human characteristics, including a projecting tuber symphyseos, a high anterior symphyseal angle, a broad scapular glenoid fossa, a reduced hamulus, a gluteal buttress, and a pilaster on the femora. Other features of Tianyuan 1 that are more common among EMHs are its modest humeral pectoralis major tuberosities, anteriorly rotated radial tuberosity, reduced radial curvature, and modest talar trochlea. It also lacks several mandibular features common among western Eurasian late archaic humans, including mandibular foramen bridging, mandibular notch asymmetry, and a large superior medial pterygoid tubercle. However, Tianyuan 1 exhibits several late archaic human features, such as its anterior to posterior dental proportions, a large hamulus length, and a broad and rounded distal phalangeal tuberosity. This morphological pattern implies that a simple spread of modern humans from Africa is unlikely.

Author contributions: H.S., H.T., S.Z., F.C., and E.T. designed research; H.S., H.T., S.Z., F.C., and E.T. performed research; H.S. and E.T. analyzed data; and H.S. and E.T. wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

To whom correspondence may be addressed.

Hong Shang, E-mail:
Erik Trinkaus, E-mail:
Tags: Late Pleistocene Neandertals mandible postcrania paleopathology 
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