March 16, 2009

‘Peking Man': Older than thought

U.S. and Chinese scientists say they've determined the Peking Man is thousands of years older than thought.

A dating method developed by Purdue University Professor Darryl Granger not only produced a more accurate determination of the age of the Zhoukoudian, China, site of remains of Homo erectus, commonly known as Peking Man, but officials said it also suggests he somehow adapted to the cold conditions produced by a mild glacial period.

The site was found to be 680,000-780,000 years old, compared with earlier estimates of 230,000-500,000 years old.

Homo erectus is considered the ancestor species to humans and the first species that left Africa and moved into Asia. The Peking Man site, discovered during the late 1920s, was among the first found for Homo erectus.

Granger co-led the study with Guanjun Shen and Bin Gao of China's Nanjing Normal University and Xing Gao of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Academia Sinaca in Beijing. A paper detailing their work is featured in the journal Nature.