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Peking Man Cave

Peking Man Cave was a limestone cave into which, about half a million years ago, Peking Man came to live intermittently until 200,000 years ago. As the cave became gradually filled with Peking Man remains and relics, stones and sands, and so on, a thick deposit was formed consisting of 13 layers which from east to west are about 140 meters long, 2-40 meters wide and about 40 meters deep.

The site was discovered in 1921 and the intensive excavation, beginning in 1927, was suspended by July 7 Incident of 1937 until the time China was liberated. During the past several decades, nearly 27,000 cubic meters have been excavated mainly from the middle part of the deposit; the discoveries include nearly two hundred pieces of Peking Man fossil representing about 40 individuals, thousands of stone artifacts, several layers of ash as evidence of fire use and nearly two hundred species of fossil animals. This is most complete site of the same Geological Age in the world and plays an important role in scientific research.

The Site of Peking Man is located at Zhoukoudian Village, 48 kilometres southwest of Beijing. It is screened by mountains on the northwest with fertile land lying to its southeast. West of the Village stands the Dragon Bone Hill, noted for its large quantities of Chinese medicine dragon bone.

Formed by limestone in the Ordovician period, the Hill rises 70 metres above the river. It is there that the fossils of the Chinese ape-man and their caves were found.

The Chinese ape-man, also known as Peking Man, lived some 690,000 years ago, in mid-period of Pleistocene epoch. The first complete skull of Peking Man was discovered in December, 1929 by Pei Wenzhong, a Chinese paleoanthropologist. Later, large-scale excavations were done on several occasions, amounting to 25,000 cubic metres of earthwork. Fossils of men and vertebrates were found. Of men fossils alone, a total of 152 pieces were uncovered of skulls, fragments of skulls, facial bones, lower jawbones and teeth belonging to over 40 individuals of different ages and sexes.

The findings of 100,000 pieces of stone implements, charred bones and ashes have proved that Peking Man knew how to use fire and was capable of making production tools. The Site of Peking Man provides not only a valuable scientific basis for the study of the origin and development of mankind but also an important base for research in the origin of human species.

In the cave above that of Peking Man were found fossils of the Upper Cave Man. They lived more than 10,000 years ago.

The exhibition is put up by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. On display are: Peking Man material and casts, reconstructed models of human fossils and the fossils of vertebrates discovered in various parts of China since 1949.

New discoveries since 1949 include five teeth, fragments of an upper arm bone and shin bone, a lower jaw bone and a skull cap. The shin bone is the first to have been discovered. Such an abundance of ape-man fossils found at a single site is rare in the world.

The exhibition is divided into three sections. The exhibits in the first section show the animal world before man. It depicts the early stage of the earth's existence when there was no living matter and the long process of its emergence from inorganic matter and the evolution of life from lower to higher stages. The pictures, fossils, casts and reconstructed models trace the history of the animal world with emphasis on the evolution of vertebrates.

In the second section, casts and models of Peking Man, his stone implements and ashes showing the use of fire by ape-man explain the origin and development of mankind.

The third section shows the research results in vertebrate paleontology and paleoanthropology. The exhibits include casts of human fossils of the ape-man and later periods excavated in China after liberation. On display are fossils of ape-man found at Yuanmou, Yunnan Province and at Lantian, Shaanxi Province; fossils of Mapa Man from Zhujiang County, Guangdong Province, of Changyang Man from Hubei Province; fossils of Ziyang Man from Sichuan Province and of Liujiang Man from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The site was listed by the United Nations' Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) as one of the world's heritages in 1987.

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