One of the most hotly debated and frontal issues in paleoanthropology focuses on the origins of modern humans. Recently, an incomplete hominin mandible with a distinctly weaker mental protuberance than modern human and a great variety of coexisting fossil mammals were unearthed from the Homo sapiens Cave of Mulan Mountain, Chongzuo, Guangxi. The mammalian fauna from the Homo sapiens Cave characterized by the combination of Elephas kiangnanensis, first occurring Elephas maixmus, and Megatapirus augustus, and strikingly different from the Early Pleistocene Gigantopithecus fauna and the Middle Pleistocene Ailuropoda-Stogodon fauna of South China could be regarded as an early representive of the typical Asian elephant fauna. Faunal analysis, biostratigraphic correlation, and, most importantly, U-series dating all consistently support an estimate of ca. 110 ka for the age of the fossil Homo sapiens and coexisting mammalian fauna, that is, the early Late Pleistocene. The fauna is mainly made up of tropical-subtropical elements, but grassland elements have a much greater variety than forest elements, which probably indicates a drier climate at that time. This discovery of early Homo sapiens at the Mulan Mountain will play a significant role in the study of the origin and its environmental background of modern humans.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Received July 3, 2009; accepted August 28, 2009 doi: 10.1007/s11434-009-0641-1 †Corresponding author (email: email@example.com) Supported by the Key Knowledge Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KZCX2-YW-106) and National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2006CB806400)
- Asian elephant fauna
- Early late pleistocene
- Homo sapiens
- Homo sapiens cave
- Origin of modern humans