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Early Erectus Tools Found in China

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Early Erectus Tools Found in China

In the January/February issue of Archaeology magazine, the article "Early Homo erectus Tools in China" holds additional, yet questionable information about the foundations of the genus Homo. After recent findings of stone tools and animal bones at Renzidong (Renzi Cave) in Anhui Province, eastern China, Chinese scientists have concluded that Homo erectus may have been established there 400,000 years earlier than formerly believed, almost 2.25 million years ago. Besides this site being one of the oldest for

findings of early hominins, it has fueled, "[…] a debate on the origins of our genus Homo, with some Chinese scientists proposing an evolution of H. erectus in China parallel to that […] in Africa"(14). A limestone cave at Longgupo ("Dragon Hill") in Sichuan Province is also in the spotlight for the "[…] East-West debate […]", over Homo origins (14). This cave has produced a 2 million year old mandible fragments with features supporting both ideas of origins from the Chinese and West, not yielding to a

single, simple explanation. As to where these apes made their signature development onto the open, flat land is debated indefinitely.

Approximately 1.7 million years ago, Homo erectus arose in Africa and shortly thereafter spread to other continents, as most scientists believe. As they expanded their range and increased in population, H. erectus may have exterminated H. habilis. Then transition from H. erectus to H. sapiens occurred about 400,000 years ago, and the dispute is over the place of origin of modern humans. "There is considerable

controversy among scientists as to whether the transition to H. sapiens took place only in Africa, or the evolution of modern humans occurred simultaneously on three continents" (Purves 515). With little information that we have now, a strong, clear hypothesis with support is lacking. But these newly recovered fosiils and tools in Renzidong may change things around.

The "out of Africa" hypothesis suggests a single origin in Africa followed by several dispersal’s.

The "multiregional" hypothesis, in contrast, proposes parallel origins of Homo in different regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. But the Chinese believe in the "Asian Hypothesis", or Asian origins of the genus.

Both sides agree that plate tectonic movements caused climatic changes from East Africa to East Asia. The weather tended to be more "[…] seasonal and arid", instigating arboreal apes to move onto the savannah and evolve into upright hominins (Ciochon 15).
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