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Letters to Nature
Nature 378, 275 - 278 (16 November 1995); doi:10.1038/378275a0

Early Homo and associated artefacts from Asia

Huang Wanpo*, Russell Ciochon, Gu Yumin*, Roy Larick§, Fang Qiren, Henry Schwarcz, Charles Yonge£, John de Vosstar & William Rink

*Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica, Beijing 100044, China
Departments of Anthropology and Pediatric Dentistry, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA
§Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA
Chongqing Museum of Natural History, 72 Loquat Hill Park Street, Chongqing, Sichuan 630013, China
Department of Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L85 4M1, Canada
£Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada
starNational Museum of Natural History, Post Office Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
To whom correspondence should be addressed.

THE site of Longgupo Cave was discovered in 1984 and excavated in 1985–1988 by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (Beijing) and the Chongqing National Museum (Sichuan Province). Important finds include very archaic hominid dental fragments, Gigantopithecus teeth and primitive stone tools. Palaeomagnetic analysis and the presence of Ailuropoda microta (pygmy giant panda) suggested that the hominid-bearing levels dated to the earliest Pleistocene1. In 1992, joint Chinese–American–Canadian geochronological research corroborated the age using electron spin resonance (ESR) analysis. We report here that the hominid dentition and stone tools from Longgupo Cave are comparable in age and morphology with early representives of the genus Homo (H. habilis and H. ergaster) and the Oldowan technology in East Africa. The Longgupo dentition is demonstr-ably more primitive than that seen in Asian Homo erectus. Long-gupo's diverse and well preserved Plio-Pleistocene fauna of 116 species provide a sensitive contextual base for interpreting the early arrival of the genus Homoin Asia.

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