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New evidence on the earliest human presence at high northern latitudes in northeast Asia

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The timing of early human dispersal to Asia is a central issue in the study of human evolution. Excavations in predominantly lacustrine sediments at Majuangou, Nihewan basin, north China, uncovered four layers of indisputable hominin stone tools. Here we report magnetostratigraphic results that constrain the age of the four artefact layers to an interval of nearly 340,000 yr between the Olduvai subchron and the Cobb Mountain event. The lowest layer, about 1.66 million years old (Myr), provides the oldest record of stone-tool processing of animal tissues in east Asia. The highest layer, at about 1.32 Myr, correlates with the stone tool layer at Xiaochangliang, previously considered the oldest archaeological site in this region. The findings at Majuangou indicate that the oldest known human presence in northeast Asia at 40 degrees N is only slightly younger than that in western Asia. This result implies that a long yet rapid migration from Africa, possibly initiated during a phase of warm climate, enabled early human populations to inhabit northern latitudes of east Asia over a prolonged period.
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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on www.nature.com/nature.
Acknowledgements S.C.W. wishes to thank former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist for
protecting the fossil deposit and awarding significant funds for its preservation and study; the
Tennessee Department of Transportation, East Tennessee State University, Office of Research and
Sponsored Programs, and the College of Arts and Sciences for their continuing support of this
project; and Larry Bristol for discovering the Pristinailurus M
1
and bringing it to my attention.
X.W. wishes to acknowledge the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation and the National
Geographic Society for support in comparative studies.
Competing interests statement The authors declare that they have no competing financial
interests.
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to X.W. (xwang@nhm.org).
..............................................................
New evidence on the earliest human
presence at high northern latitudes in
northeast Asia
R. X. Zhu
1
, R. Potts
2
, F. Xie
3
, K. A. Hoffman
4
, C. L. Deng
1
, C. D. Shi
1
,
Y. X. Pan
1
, H. Q. Wang
1
, R. P. Shi
1
, Y. C. Wang
1
, G. H. Shi
1
&N.Q.Wu
1
1
Paleomagnetism Laboratory, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese
Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
2
Human Origins Program, National Museum of Natural Histor y, Smithsonian
Institution, Washington, DC 20560-0112, USA
3
Hebei Province Institute of Cultural Relics, Shijiazhuang 050000, China
4
Physics Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
California 93410, USA
.............................................................................................................................................................................
The timing of early human dispersal to Asia is a central issue in
the study of human evolution. Excavations in predominantly
lacustrine sediments at Majuangou, Nihewan basin, north China,
uncovered four layers of indisputable hominin stone tools. Here
we report magnetostratigraphic results that constrain the age of
the four artefact layers to an interval of nearly 340,000 yr between
the Olduvai subchron and the Cobb Mountain event. The lowest
layer, about 1.66 million years old (Myr), provides the oldest
record of stone-tool processing of animal tissues in east Asia. The
highest layer, at about 1.32 Myr, correlates with the stone tool
layer at Xiaochangliang
1
, previously considered the oldest
archaeological site in this region. The findings at Majuangou
indicate that the oldest known human presence in northeast Asia
at 408 N is only slightly younger than that in western Asia
2,3
. This
result implies that a long yet rapid migration from Afr i ca,
possibly initiated during a phase of warm climate, enabled
early human populations to inhabit northern latitudes of east
Asia over a prolonged period.
The Majuangou (MJG; 408 13.517
0
N, 1148 39.844
0
E) section lies
in the eastern margin of the Nihewan basin (Fig. 1). It is a lacustrine
sequence with brief intervals of wetland and lake-margin sediments,
and consists mainly of greyish-yellow and greyish-green clay, silty
clay and silt. It is underlain by red Jurassic volcanic breccia. Loess
sediments at the top of the section have been subjected to erosion.
The four artefact layers found in the MJG section are, from top
to bottom, Banshan
4
(44.3–45.0 m), MJG-I (ref. 5; 65.0–65.5 m),
MJG-II (73.2–73.56 m) and MJG-III (75.0–75.5 m) (Fig. 2).
The Banshan artefact layer, discovered and excavated in 1990
(2 m
2
area, 70 cm thick), contained 95 stone artefacts in gravelly
sandy silt
4
. Excavation of MJG-I in 1993 (20 m
2
, 50 cm) yielded 111
stone tools in clayey silt
5
. Renewed excavation at Majuangou in 2001
and 2002 uncovered 226 artefacts in brown clayey silt of MJG-II
(40 m
2
, 36 cm) and 443 artefacts in greyish-black silty clay of MJG-
III (85 m
2
, 50 cm). The sediments, numerous molluscan shells
(Gyraulus chihliensis and Planorbis youngi), and leaves and fruits
of aquatic plants (for example Trapa sp.) in MJG-III indicate a low-
energy lakeshore or marsh environment rich in organic materials.
The in situ artefact density in this layer was low overall (10.4
artefacts per m
3
), but artefacts and fauna in some 5-cm-thick
Figure 1 Location of the Majuangou and Haojiatai sections in the Nihewan basin. Some
sites mentioned in the text, Xiaochangliang, Donggutuo, Gongwangling and Xihoudu, are
indicated. The Qinling Mountains (bottom left) are the traditional dividing line between
north and south China. The Yellow River and Yangtze River are the major river systems in
north and south China, respectively.
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units were as high as 170 specimens per m
3
over the entire
excavation and 620 specimens per m
3
in a single square metre.
These concentrations are comparable to those in African Plio-
Pleistocene archaeological sites
6,7
. MJG-III exhibits remarkable
preservation demonstrated by animal-trampled sedimentary sur-
faces, very fresh condition of the artefacts, and fossil bone surface
details that include tool percussion marks and numerous fine
scratches attributed to trampling.
The four Majuangou layers preserve indisputable stone tools
indicative of repetitive stone-on-stone percussion flaking (Fig. 3a–e).
The assemblages are dominated by core fragments that exhibit
truncated negative scars and by flakes with percussion platforms
and bulbs. Each artefact layer also contained flaked cores that show
striking platforms and multiple overlapping negative scars. The
cores can be placed in artefact categories of chopper, scraper and
polyhedron also known in African Plio-Pleistocene stone tool
assemblages. The MJG cores were chipped from angular fragments
of chert, sandstone, quartz and andesite, and thus differ from typical
East African Oldowan artefacts made on rounded lava cobbles. The
artefacts of MJG-I to MJG-III are significantly outsized clasts in very
fine-grain depositional contexts, which indicates the hominin
transport of rocks from outcrop sources over an unknown distance.
Vertebrate fossil remains were best represented at MJG-III
(N ¼ 1,014), most of which are attributable to Elephas sp. Other
taxa include horse Equus sanmeniensis, hyena Pachycrocuta sp.,
rhinoceros Coelodonta antiquitatis, deer Cervus sp., bovid Gazella
Figure 2 Lithostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy and correlation with the
geomagnetic polarity timescale (GPTS)
9
. a, Haojiatai; b, Majuangou. The four artefact
levels are shown. To confirm the palaeomagnetic results, two sets of parallel samples
(black and blue circles in b) with independent orientation were measured on the
Majuangou outcrop and well samples. Inc., inclination; Dec., declination; VGP, virtual
geomagnetic pole.
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sp., ostrich Struthio sp., and Carnivora gen. et sp. indet. The
mammals from MJG-III and the Banshan layer are typical of the
taxa recorded in the Xiaochangliang site
8
. Evidence of sedimentary
abrasion due to trampling hinders an unambiguous identification
of purposeful tool butchery marks at MJG; however, several
diaphysis fragments of deer- and horse-sized mammalian long
bones show tool percussion damage indicative of marrow extraction
(Fig. 3f). Although there was accumulation of tools and fossil bones
during depositional hiatuses, there is no evidence of deflation
surfaces that might have associated objects from separate strata.
Accumulation of both artefacts and fossil animals was therefore
contemporaneous, and the presence of tool-modified bones implies
that hominins acquired food from the animal remains preserved in
the MJG layers.
We examined the 95.6-m-thick MJG section palaeomagnetically
and compared it with a 128.8-m-thick parallel section 1.5 km away
named Haojiatai (HJT; 408 13.240
0
N, 1148 38.938
0
E) (Fig. 1). The
HJT section, which consists of flat-lying beds exposed in deep
gullies, preserves the entire upper part of the Nihewan sequence,
including the Holocene soil and the last glacial loess (Fig. 2). All HJT
samples were collected from natural outcrops. Samples from the top
of the MJG section to a depth of 75.2 m came from natural outcrops;
two wells were dug to extend the MJG palaeomagnetic record. The
first well, about 20 m southeast of the MJG-III site, recorded a depth
interval from 75.2 to 86.2 m; the second well, about 50 m northwest
of the site, recorded a depth interval from 75.2 to 95.6 m. The
sedimentary sequences at MJG and HJT are well correlated by two
distinctive marker layers: a conglomerate layer (found at the 45-m
depth at MJG and the 105-m depth at HJT) and a greyish-yellow
clay layer with molluscan fossils (found at the 66-m depth at MJG
and the 122.4-m depth at HJT) (Fig. 2).
Rock magnetic methods, which included anisotropy of magnetic
susceptibility, thermomagnetic analysis and hysteresis measure-
ments, showed that magnetite of pseudo-single-domain grain size
is the principal carrier of the magnetic remanence and that the
sedimentary magnetic fabric had been unperturbed since depo-
sition. After this check on the reliability of the two palaeomagnetic
records, we established the polarity stratigraphy through stepwise
demagnetization of the natural remanent magnetization. Complete
information on rock magnetic methods and demagnetization of
the natural remanent magnetization used here is given in Sup-
plementary Information.
After the removal of secondary remanent magnetization com-
ponents from each sample through thermal and/or alternating field
demagnetization procedures, virtual geomagnetic pole latitudes
were determined from the characteristic remanent magnetization
vector directions. These virtual geomagnetic poles were sub-
sequently used to define the succession of magnetostratigraphic
polarity in the two sections (Fig. 2).
Four magnetozones are recognized in the HJT section: two with
normal polarity, N1 (0–49.0 m) and N2 (75.8–80.2 m); and two
with reverse polarity, R1 (49.0–75.8 m) and R2 (80.2–128.8 m). In
the MJG section there are five magnetozones: two normal and three
reverse. These magnetozones correlate to the polarity sequence
at HJT as follows: N2 (17.2–22.0 m) and N3 (85.0–90.5 m); R1
(0–17.2 m), R2 (22.0–85.0 m) and R3 (90.5–95.6 m). The sediment
layers containing stone artefacts all occur within magnetozone R2 at
MJG.
Because the Holocene soil, the last glacial loess, and soil associ-
ated with the last interglacial overlay the HJT lacustrine sequence,
the magnetozones determined for HJT can readily be correlated to
the geomagnetic polarity timescale
9
. HJTmagnetozones N1 and N2
correspond to the Brunhes chron and the Jaramillo subchron,
respectively; thus, magnetozones N2 and N3 in the MJG section
correspond to the Jaramillo subchron and the Olduvai subchron,
respectively. Hence, these Nihewan basin sediments were deposited
from just before the onset of the Olduvai subchron into the Brunhes
normal chron.
The magnetostratigraphic correlation is strengthened in that the
mammalian fauna from the Banshan and MJG-III layers is late
Pliocene to early Pleistocene in age
8,10–12
. In addition, two short
intervals of possible transitional field behaviour, labelled e1 and e2
in Fig. 2, are recorded within magnetozone R2 at both MJG and HJT
(e1, 29.5–30.5 m at MJG and 88.7–89.9 m at HJT; e2, 36.5–37.3 m at
MJG and 94.1–94.7 m at HJT). Given that the duration of magne-
tozone R2 is about 0.70 Myr
between the termination of the
Olduvai subchron (1.77 Myr) and the onset of the Jaramillo sub-
chron (1.07 Myr)
9
the interpolated ages for e1 and e2 are 1.16 Myr
and 1.24 Myr, respectively, based on an averaged rate of sediment
deposition. These values are remarkably similar to the
40
Ar–
39
Ar age
determinations of 1.10–1.11 Myr (ref. 13) and 1.21–1.24 Myr (ref. 9)
for the Punaruu and Cobb Mountain geomagnetic events. It is
therefore possible that the sediments in both sections record not
only the coarse magnetostratigraphy of the Matuyama chron (that
is, the Jaramillo and Olduvai normal polarity subchrons) but also
some of its fine structure.
The Banshan, MJG-I, MJG-II and MJG-III artefact layers within
magnetozone R2, reflecting brief episodes of wetlands or lake-
margin deposition within a largely lacustrine sequence, have mid-
way depths of 44.65, 65.25, 73.38 and 75.25 m, respectively (Fig. 2).
Again with the use of an averaged sediment accumulation rate for
magnetozone R2 at MJG, the ages of these four artefact layers can be
estimated at 1.32, 1.55, 1.64 and 1.66 Myr, respectively.
Figure 3 Stone artefacts and modified bones from Majuangou. a, Notch made on a flake
(MJG-III). b, Chopper made on an angular fragment (MJG-II). c, Multi-platform polyhedron
made on an angular fragment (MJG-III). d, Scraper made on a flake (MJG-III). e,
Hammerstone; arrow indicates the main battered end. f, Two mammalian long-bone shaft
fragments with impact notches and flake scars (arrows) typical of tool percussion damage
(MJG-III). Scale bars, 1 cm.
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The ages for MJG-I, MJG-II and MJG-III are considerably older
than previous age estimates of Palaeolithic sites in northern China
1
and indicate that humans might have reached northeast Asia earlier
than previously thought. Along with estimated ages for the sites of
Gongwangling (1.15 Myr)
14
and Xihoudu (1.27 Myr)
15
in the
southern Loess Plateau and for Xiaochangliang (1.36 Myr)
1
and
Donggutuo (1.1 Myr)
16
sites in the Nihewan basin, our new results
imply an expansion and lengthy flourishing of human groups from
northern to north-central China during the early Pleistocene.
The estimated age of 1.66 Myr for the MJG-III artefact layer pre-
dates the previous oldest age of unambiguous human presence at
408 N in East Asia by about 0.3 Myr. Our findings, particularly for
the MJG-III layer, document the oldest coexistence of stone tools
and man-made bone modifications in East Asia, indicating possible
continuity with the oldest stone tools and artificial bone modifi-
cations reported in eastern Africa
17,18
. Archaeological evidence at
MJG indicates the oldest known use of animal tissues, especially
marrow processing, by early humans in Asia. The earliest archae-
ological level in the Nihewan basin is slightly younger than the
1.75 Myr estimated age for early humans at the Dmanisi site at 408 N
latitude in western Eurasia
2,3
. Our estimated ages also fall within the
1.66–1.51-Myr range for the earliest known human fossils in south-
east Asia
19,20
. The combined evidence suggests that, near the start of
the Pleistocene, early human populations spread relatively rapidly
across Asia, presumably from an African origin, and reached at least
408 N latitude. Our findings further establish that the earliest
populations to reach northeast Asia were able to survive for at
least 500 kyr before the mid-Pleistocene onset of high-amplitude
climate oscillation
21–23
. A
Received 19 February; accepted 8 July 2004; doi:10.1038/nature02829.
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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on www.nature.com/nature.
Acknowledgements We thank R. J. Enkin for providing palaeomagnetic software. This work was
supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Chinese Academy of
Sciences. R.P. was supported by the US National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian
Human Origins Program. K.A.H. also received support from the US National Science
Foundation.
Competing interests statement The authors declare that they have no competing financial
interests.
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to R.X.Z. (rxzhucn@yahoo.com
and rxzhu@mail.igcas.ac.cn) or R.P. (potts.rick@nmnh.si.edu).
..............................................................
Modelling the recent common
ancestry of all living humans
Douglas L. T. Rohde
1
, Steve Olson
2
& Joseph T. Chang
3
1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
2
7609 Sebago Road, Bethesda, Maryland 20817, USA
3
Department of Statistics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA
.............................................................................................................................................................................
If a common ancestor of all living humans is defined as an
individual who is a genealogical ancestor of all present-day
people, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for a ran-
domly mating population would have lived in the very recent
past
1–3
. However, the random mating model ignores essential
aspects of population sub struct ure, such a s the tendency of
individuals to choose mates from the same social group, and
the relative isolation of geographically separated groups. Here we
show that recent common ancestors also emerge from two
models incorporating substantial population substructure. One
model, designed for simplicity and theoretical insight, yields
explicit mathematical results through a probabilistic analysis. A
more elaborate second model, designed to capture his torical
population dynamics in a more realistic way, is analysed compu-
tationally throug h Monte Carlo simulations. These analyses
suggest that the genealogies of all living humans overlap in
remarkable ways in the recent past. In particular, the MRCA of
all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in
these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than
just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-
day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.
In investigations of the common ancestors of all living humans,
much attention has focused on descent through either exclusively
maternal or exclusively paternal lines, as occurs with mitochondrial
DNA and most of the Y chromosome
4,5
. But according to the more
common genealogical usage of the term ‘ancestor’, ancestry encom-
passes all lines of descent through both males and females, so that
the ancestors of an individual include all of that person’s parents,
grandparents, and so on.
For a population of size n, assuming random mating (and so
ignoring population substructure), probabilistic analysis
2
has
proved that the number of generations back to the MRCA, T
n
,
has a distribution that is sharply concentrated around log
2
n.We
express this using the notation T
n
, log
2
n, meaning that the
quotient T
n
/log
2
n converges in probability to 1 as n !1.In
contrast, the mean time to the MRCA along exclusively matrilineal
or patrilineal lines is approximately n generations
6
, and the distri-
bution is not sharply concentrated. For example, in a panmictic
population of one million people, the genealogical MRCA
would have lived about 20 generations ago, or around the year
AD 1400, assuming a generation time of 30 years. The MRCA along
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... Hominins occupied areas which are today within the basins of the second terrace of China (Lu et al., 2021). Such sites are mostly located within the Nihewan Basin in Northern China (Zhu et al., , 2004Wang et al., 2005;Wang et al., 2006;Deng et al., 2006Deng et al., , 2007Li et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2010a;Liu et al., 2014;Wei et al., 2015;Li et al., 2016;Liu et al., 2016;Deng et al., 2019;Jia et al., 2019;Pei et al., 2019), the Qinling Mountain Range (QMR) in Central China (An and Ho, 1989;Zhu et al., 2003;Lu et al., 2007;De and Li, 2008;Kong et al., 2013;Zhu et al., 2015Zhu et al., , 2018Bahain et al., 2017;Li et al., 2017;Sun et al., 2017;Xing et al., 2021) and parts of Southern China (Hou et al., 2000;Wang et al., 2008;Zhu et al., 2008;Shao et al., 2015;Han et al., 2017). Very few sites have been found in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River (Zhao and Yang, 1995;Fang et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2010b). ...
... As presented in Fig. 11, a comprehensive analysis of published dating results shows that 33 Palaeolithic sites in China can be considered to be possess accurate age estimates which place them in the Early Pleistocene (An and Ho, 1989;Zhao and Yang, 1995;Hou et al., 2000;Zhu et al., 2001Zhu et al., , 2004Zhu et al., 2003;Wang et al., 2005;Wang et al., 2006;Deng et al., 2006Deng et al., , 2007Lu et al., 2007;De and Li, 2008;Fang et al., 2008;Li et al., 2008;Wang et al., 2008;Zhu et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2010aLiu et al., , 2010bKong et al., 2013;Liu et al., 2014;Shao et al., 2015;Wei et al., 2015;Zhu et al., 2015Zhu et al., , 2018Li et al., 2016;Liu et al., 2016;Liu et al., 2016;Bahain et al., 2017;Han et al., 2017;Li et al., 2017;Sun et al., 2017;Deng et al., 2019;Jia et al., 2019;Pei et al., 2019;Xing et al., 2021). Among these Early Pleistocene hominin fossils and Palaeolithic sites, 26 have been dated using magnetostratigraphy, nine sites using Electron Spin Resonance, three using Ar -Ar dating, two with 26 Al/ 10 Be burial dating and one using U-series dating. ...
... Concurrently, the Nihewan Basin had the largest number of sites with ages that are relatively continuous. Typical sites are Shanshenmiaozui (Liu et al., 2016), Huojiadi (Liu et al., 2010a), Donggutuo (Wang et al., 2005;Jia et al., 2019), Madigou , Cenjiawan (Wang et al., 2006), Feiliang (Deng et al., 2007), Banshan (Zhu et al., 2004;Liu et al., 2014), Xiaochangliang Li et al., 2008), Majuangou (Zhu et al., 2004;Liu et al., 2014;Liu et al., Fig. 8. Lithology, magnetic susceptibility and magnetic polarity stratigraphy of the Guanmenyan profile and its correlation with the geomagnetic polarity time scale (Hilgen et al., 2012). MS, magnetic susceptibility; Dec., magnetic declination; Inc., magnetic inclination; VGP Lat., virtual geomagnetic pole latitude; MAD, maximum angular deviation; GPTS, geomagnetic polarity timescale; N, normal polarity; R, reversed polarity; B, Brunhes; J, Jaramillo. ...
Article
Numerous open air Palaeolithic and hominin fossil sites have been discovered in the Qinling Mountain Range (QMR) in central China. However, a small number have been confirmed as dating to the Early Pleistocene. The present study introduces stratigraphic and chronological studies of the newly discovered Guanmenyan Palaeolithic site, Danjiangkou Basin, and Yuelianghu Palaeolithic site, Yunxian Basin along the Hanjiang River Valley, in the southern QMR. The artefacts recovered from Guanmenyan and Yuelianghu are consistent with Early Palaeolithic assemblages found at other localities in the region. Based on magnetostratigraphy and correlation with the loess-palaeosol sequence from the central Chinese Loess Plateau, our dating results show both open-air sites can be dated to the Early Pleistocene. Guanmenyan is dated ~0.787–0.819 Ma (L8), while the upper and lower Palaeolithic cultural layers of Yuelianghu are dated ~0.819–0.865 Ma (S8) and ~ 0.943–989 Ma (S9), respectively. Thus Guanmenyan and Yuelianghu help to fill a chronological gap in the Palaeolithic record of Hanjiang River Valley and establish the QMR as a major region documenting this important period of hominin evolution in China.
... Nonetheless, many sites have yielded numerous assemblages, both with fauna and lithics. Liu and colleagues (2013) summarized the technological data of eight major sites, Majuangou Xie and Li, 2002a,b), Xiaochangliang (You et al., 1979;Huang, 1985;Chen et al., 1998Chen et al., , 2002Li, 1999;Zhu et al., 2001), Dachangliang (Pei, 2002;Deng et al., 2006), Banshan (Wei,1994;Zhu et al., 2004), Donggutuo (Li andWang, 1985;Wei, 1985;Hou et al., 1999), Feiliang Zhu et al., 2007), Huojiadi (Feng and Hou, 1998) and Xujiapo . According to the authors (Liu et al., 2013), for those localities, the raw material exploitation is quite similar. ...
... Majuangou III is the oldest site known to date in the Nihewan basin. Dated at 1.66 Ma (Zhu et al., 2004), it is an open-air site, one level of which has yielded several hundred artifacts. ...
... Nonetheless, many sites have yielded numerous assemblages, both with fauna and lithics. Liu and colleagues (2013) summarized the technological data of eight major sites, Majuangou Xie and Li, 2002a,b), Xiaochangliang (You et al., 1979;Huang, 1985;Chen et al., 1998Chen et al., , 2002Li, 1999;Zhu et al., 2001), Dachangliang (Pei, 2002;Deng et al., 2006), Banshan (Wei,1994;Zhu et al., 2004), Donggutuo (Li andWang, 1985;Wei, 1985;Hou et al., 1999), Feiliang Zhu et al., 2007), Huojiadi (Feng and Hou, 1998) and Xujiapo . According to the authors (Liu et al., 2013), for those localities, the raw material exploitation is quite similar. ...
... Majuangou III is the oldest site known to date in the Nihewan basin. Dated at 1.66 Ma (Zhu et al., 2004), it is an open-air site, one level of which has yielded several hundred artifacts. ...
... Nonetheless, many sites have yielded numerous assemblages, both with fauna and lithics. Liu and colleagues (2013) summarized the technological data of eight major sites, Majuangou Xie and Li, 2002a,b), Xiaochangliang (You et al., 1979;Huang, 1985;Chen et al., 1998Chen et al., , 2002Li, 1999;Zhu et al., 2001), Dachangliang (Pei, 2002;Deng et al., 2006), Banshan (Wei,1994;Zhu et al., 2004), Donggutuo (Li andWang, 1985;Wei, 1985;Hou et al., 1999), Feiliang Zhu et al., 2007), Huojiadi (Feng and Hou, 1998) and Xujiapo . According to the authors (Liu et al., 2013), for those localities, the raw material exploitation is quite similar. ...
... Majuangou III is the oldest site known to date in the Nihewan basin. Dated at 1.66 Ma (Zhu et al., 2004), it is an open-air site, one level of which has yielded several hundred artifacts. ...
Book
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This book entitled ‘Studying Africa and Africans Today’ is derived from the Second Meeting of Xiamen University Belt and Road Research Institute Africa Regions Sub-Forum, that took place at Xiamen University in April 2019. The different contributions triggered vivid and interesting debates in a collegial and friendly atmosphere. The Africa sub-Forum debates lead to a series of suggestions on how to strengthen the scientific, academic and cultural collaboration and exchange between China and Africa in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. The strongest recommendation suggests a stronger promotion of cultural, scientific, and academic collaboration and exchanges that will open the way to better mutual understanding. The study is an inter�disciplinary research initiative with focus on Africa and people of African descent worldwide. Scholars from different parts of the world, Algeria, Brazil, China, France, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and the United States of America contributed to the debates and discussion that took place at Xiamen university. Keywords: Cultural collaboration; Africa; Xiamen University; China-Africa Cooperation.
... Located in northern China, around 150 km northwest of Beijing, the Nihewan Basin is one of the most famous late Cenozoic basins, producing rich fossils (Cai et al., 2013;Teilhard de Chardin & Piveteau, 1930) and paleolithic material (see a review in Yang et al., 2020), representing the earliest evidence of human presence at high northern latitudes in northeast Asia (Zhu et al., 2004). Clarifying the taxonomy and biostratigraphy of fossil animals in this basin is, therefore, not only important for studying the evolution of these animals, but also important for understanding the paleoenvironment that humans had lived and adapted. ...
... The age of the Shigou fossil layer could be estimated by comparing to the Majuangou section. Since Majuangou was paleomagnetically dated to 1.55 Ma (MJG-I), 1.64 Ma (MJG-II), and 1.66 Ma (MJG-III) (Zhu et al., 2004), and Shigou fossil layer is between MJG-II and MJG-III in stratigraphic sequence (Chen et al., 2017), thus we can infer that an age of 1.64-1.66 Ma for Shigou. ...
Article
The Nihewan Basin is famous for producing a rich Early Pleistocene fauna, the most classic and standard for the Early Pleistocene of northern China, as well as rich paleolithic remains, documenting the early presence of humans. Many fossil Carnivora, including the scimitar toothed cat Homotherium, were found from this basin, but no complete material of this cat was known, which hampers a deep study of its taxonomy. Here, we report a complete cranium of Homotherium, found in Shigou, a recently discovered locality in the Nihewan Basin. The morphology of the cranium supports its assignment to Homotherium crenatidens teilhardipiveteaui, a terminal evolutionary stage of the species with a Palearctic distribution. Our analyses suggest that Homotherium evolved largely contemporarily in different regions of Eurasia, suggesting a continuous gene flow within the continent, and the subspecies delimitation should be more chronological than geographical.
... The limited natural outcrops of late Cenozoic deposits are mainly exposed in the eastern margin of the Nihewan Basin, which comprised the Nihewan beds (Barbour, 1924). Numerous magnetostratigraphic investigations show that the Nihewan beds span from the late Gilbert reverse chron to the Brunhes normal chron Zhu et al., 2001Zhu et al., , 2004Deng et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2012Liu et al., , 2018a, extending the basal age of the Nihewan beds to ca. 4.0 Ma (Liu et al., 2018b;Deng et al., 2019). ...
... 3.2 Ma at Danangou , ca. 3 Ma at Xiashagou (Liu et al., 2012;Tu et al., 2022), ca. 2 Ma at Dachangliang (Deng et al., 2006), ca. 1.7 Ma at Haojiatai-Majuangou (Zhu et al., 2004(Zhu et al., , 2007, and ca. 1.5 Ma at Xiaochangliang (Zhu et al., 2001) (Fig. 1C). ...
Article
The Shanxi Rift System is an intracontinental rift system located between the North China Plain and Ordos Plateau, which was infilled with thousands of meters of Cenozoic fluvio-lacustrine deposits. A comprehensive chronological framework will help better understand the formation and evolutionary process of the rift system. Here, we present a new magnetochronology for the Datong Basin sedimentary sequence in the northern Shanxi Rift System based on high-resolution magnetostratigraphic investigations of the DY-1 core. Correlation of the recognized magnetic polarity sequence of the DY-1 core with the Astronomically Tuned Neogene Time Scale shows that the fluvio-lacustrine sequence in the Datong Basin spans from Chron C3Bn to Chron C1n. The age of the Datong Basin sedimentary sequence can thus be paleomagnetically constrained to an interval from the late Late Miocene to Middle Pleistocene. The basal age of the sediments is ca. 7.0 Ma, which indicates that the initial extension of the northern segment of the Shanxi Rift System was no later than 7.0 Ma. The Datong Basin in the northern Shanxi Rift System has experienced a three-stage evolution: During the initial stage (7.0–4.2 Ma), fluvial environments are dominant. Then during 4.2–1.8 Ma, lacustrine environments are developed due to dip-slip fault activities, as part of the Nihewan paleolake. After 1.8 Ma, the lake gradually shrank. The northeastward progressive growth and expansion of the Tibetan Plateau may have driven the evolution of the Shanxi Rift System.
... The Paleolithic sites in Nihewan Basin have been dated back tõ 1.66 Ma (Zhu et al., 2004), and the neighboring (~150 km) Zhoukoudian Locality 1 (ZKD1) dated back to~0.5 to 0.8 Ma (see reviews and references in Chen and Zhou, 2009). The lithic technologies in both areas belong to the 'small-tool' industry (flake technology), one of the major Paleolithic traditions in North China (Jia et al., 1972;Zhang, 1990Zhang, , 1999Liu, 2014;Guo et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
As part of the “generalized Nihewan Basin”, the Huailai basin has recently attracted archaeologists’ attention. Ten Paleolithic sites were found in this basin in 2014; among these, the Zhuwobu site is the oldest―dated to 504 ± 76 ka using the electron spin resonance (ESR) dating method. This study redated the Zhuwobu site using the multiple elevated temperatures (MET) post infrared (pIR) infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) procedure (MET-pIRIR) on both multi-grained single and multiple aliquots of potassium-rich feldspars (K-feldspars). The consistency of the De results obtained from the single- and multiple-aliquot procedures mutually supported the reliability of our age results. Our results suggest that the cultural layer at this site was deposited about 280 ± 13 ka (MIS 8) ago, ∼220 ka younger than the previous ESR age. Considering the region’s tectonic history and the characteristics of the sedimentary facies for the ZWB site, we suggested that the previous ESR age results for the bottom three samples from the sediment profile might be overestimated due to poor bleaching before burial. In contrast, the ESR age of 346 ± 32 ka (MIS 10) for one cultural-layer collected sample might be more reliable due to higher-quality bleaching before burial. Further archaeological, geological, and chronological studies are needed to explore the ancient hominins’ survival conditions in the “generalized Nihewan Basin” and possible connections with the renowned Zhoukoudian sites.
... The Nihewan Basin has attracted extensive attention worldwide ever since the first Paleolithic site was discovered in 1965 (Yuan et al., 2009). With typical fluvio-lacustrine deposits (Barbour et al., 1927;Dennell, 2009;Xie, 2018), well-known mammalian fauna in the early Pleistocene named Nihewan fauna (Barbour, 1925;Liu et al., 2021), the densest concentration of Paleolithic sites in the Pleistocene outside Africa (Xie et al., 2006;Guo et al., 2016;Ao et al., 2010;Yang et al., 2019;Pei et al., 2019), as well as the earliest evidence of human activities in Northeast Asia (Zhang, 1999;Zhu et al., 2004), the Nihewan Basin is an important region for studying the origin and evolution of modern humans and the human-environment interaction in East Asia. Although numerous Paleolithic sites have been discovered and excavated in the Nihewan Basin, many of them have not been well dated or their ages remain controversial. ...
Article
The Paleolithic site of Xibaimaying (XBMY), once considered the youngest flake tool site within the Nihewan Basin, North China, is an ideal archive to study the chronological relationship between flake tool and microblade industries in the Nihewan Basin during the Upper Palaeolithic, but the previous ages obtained for the site remain controversial. From 2015 to 2019, three areas at two archaeological localities (XBMY-I and XBMY-II) of the site were excavated, and well-preserved fossils and flake tools were unearthed. In this study, a total of 26 samples were collected from the three areas for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating using a single-aliquot regenerative-dose (SAR) protocol on fine-grained quartz. A shared ‘Standardized growth curve’ (SGC) for a section was constructed to reduce the time required for De estimation. The long-term weighted average water contents of the samples during their burial period were estimated based on the in-situ water contents of continuous samples from a nearby borehole. All the OSL ages were modelled via Bayesian statistics using the OxCal software, modifying the OSL ages with stratigraphic constraints in each section. The results show that the cultural layer bearing flake tool assemblages falls within the period of 122–36 ka, indicating that the flake tool industry of the Xibaimaying site is comparable to that of the Youfangbei (108–86 ka), Banjingzi (∼86 ka) and Xinmiaozhuang (75–63 ka) sites, rather than the youngest one in the Nihewan basin, which explains why the Xibaimaying site is characterized as pure flake tool culture without any ‘advanced’ trait. The OSL dating results also shed new light on the study of sedimentary processes in the Xibaimaying site area. The different deposition rates (0.01–1.61 mm/a) for the sediments at the three newly excavated areas imply complex geomorphologic processes in the site area.
... Paleomagnetic polarity of the sediments in relation to the stratigraphic position of the hominin remains suggested chronological ages of 800e750 ka (Ma et al., 1978), 1.0 Ma (Cheng et al., 1978), or 1.15 Ma (An and Ho, 1989). A recent re-examination of the deposit has revealed a major stratigraphic hiatus above the fossil-bearing layer, suggesting an estimated age of 1.63 Ma (Zhu et al., 2015) that is comparable to the age of 1.66 Ma obtained for the oldest lithic assemblages at Majuangou, in the Nihewan Basin, North China (Zhu et al., 2004). 26 Al/ 10 Be burial dating of the top of a gravel bed around 7 m below the Gongwangling fossil layer yielded a burial age of 1.82 Ma (Tu et al., 2017). ...
Article
The fossil hominin individual from Gongwangling of Lantian, Central China, represents one of the earliest members attributed to Homo erectus in East Asia. Recent paleomagnetic analyses have yielded an age of 1.63 Ma for the Gongwangling hominin. The fossils from this site are critical to characterize the morphological features of early hominins in East Asia and to understand their relationships with other earlier and later members of the genus Homo. However, most morphological details of the Gongwangling cranium were obliterated due to postmortem erosion and deformation. Here we used high-resolution microcomputed tomography and three-dimensional virtual imaging techniques to extract the teeth and reconstruct the worn/damaged areas, describe the external morphology, measure crown diameters, record nonmetric traits of the crown and root, and investigate the shape of the enamel-dentine junction using geometric morphometrics. We compared the data obtained from the six teeth of the Gongwangling hominin with African early Homo, African and Georgian Homo erectus s.l., Asian Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, pre-Neanderthals, Neanderthals, and modern humans. Our results show that the Gongwangling specimens display affinities with other specimens attributed to H. erectus s.l. The highly divergent and noncoalesced three-root system in the Gongwangling specimens is comparable to that in the Early Pleistocene members of H. erectus s.l., and differs from Middle Pleistocene representatives of the species. The enamel-dentine junction shape of the Gongwangling molars prefigures the Asian H. erectus pattern later found in East Asian Middle Pleistocene H. erectus. The morphological comparisons between East Asian Early Pleistocene (e.g., Gongwangling, Meipu, and Quyuan River Mouth) and Middle Pleistocene H. erectus (e.g., Zhoukoudian, Hexian, and Yiyuan) suggest a potential temporal trend within this species in East Asia.
... With its large brain, modest stone tools, and the ability to harness fire, Homo erectus spread out across many regions of the globe. By 1.8 million years ago, these humans had left Africa [7], and within 200,000 years, they had migrated as far as the northern latitudes of northeast Asia [8]. Archaeological evidence also indicates that Homo erectus made its way into Europe approximately 1.2 million years ago [9]. ...
Article
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A Late Miocene-Early Pliocene (cf. Hemphillian) deposit of plant and vertebrate remains was exposed during preliminary highway construction in Spring 2000 near the city of Gray, Washington County, upper East Tennessee. In addition to as yet unidentified fish, frog, salamander, crocodilian, and rodent species, two taxa of snakes (cf. Sistrurus sp., cf. Regina sp.), rhinoceros (Teleoceras sp.), tapir (Tapirus, cf. T. polkensis), sloth (cf. Megalonyx sp.), gomphothere (Gomphotheriidae), peccary (cf. Catagonus sp.), shrew (Soricidae), mustelid (Mustelidae), bear (cf. Ursus sp.), and turkey (Meleagris sp.) are represented. Remains of at least eight aquatic turtles of the genus Trachemys were also recovered, whereas others were lost due to construction and fossil collectors. The pronounced rugosity of the costal bones, deeply serrated anterior and especially posterior peripherals, and deeply incised pygal of the carapace, and a pronounced and deeply serrated anterior margin of the plastron suggest a relationship close to Trachemys inflata, an Early Pliocene turtle previously known only from Florida. The numerous individuals represented at the Gray Site indicate a well-established population and may reflect, along with crocodilians and certain terrestial mammals, a warm environment at some period(s) during the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene.