Yuanmou Man

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Yuanmou Man
Temporal range: Pleistocene
Teeth of Yuanmou Man (Cast) - cropped.png
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Hominini
Genus: Homo
H. e. yuanmouensis
Trinomial name
Homo erectus yuanmouensis
Li et al., 1977

Yuanmou Man (simplified Chinese: 元谋人; traditional Chinese: 元謀人; pinyin: Yuánmóu Rén), Homo erectus yuanmouensis, refers to a member of the genus Homo whose remnants, two incisors, were discovered near Danawu Village in Yuanmou County in southwestern province of Yunnan, China. Later, stone artifacts, pieces of animal bone showing signs of human work and ash from campfires were also dug up from the site. The fossils are on display at the National Museum of China, Beijing.


The remnants of Yuanmou Man were discovered on May 1, 1965, by the geologist Fang Qian, who was working for the Geological Mechanics Research Institute. Based on the palaeomagnetic dating of the rock they were found in, it was initially estimated that the fossils were about 1.7 Ma and thus represented the earliest fossils of human ancestors found in China and East Asia.[1] It was once thought to be possibly predated by "Wushan Man", but that has turned out to be a Stem-orangutan, (Ponginae).[2]


The dating has been indirectly questioned by Geoffrey Pope who argued that evidence does not support the appearance of hominidae in Asia prior to 1 million years ago.[3] (this skepticism has since lifted, with additional findings in the last 25 years). There are still, however, conflicting opinions regarding the age of the Yuanmou Fm. and Yuanmou Man. You et al. (1978) suggested that Member 4 in the upper part of the formation is middle Pleistocene and should be designated the Shangnabang Fm., while the sediments exposed at Shagou containing Enhydriodon cf. falconeri should be designated the Shagou Fm. with an age of Pliocene.[4]

Liu et al. (1983) believed the age of Yuanmou Man was Middle Pleistocene, did not exceed 0.73 Ma, and was probably contemporaneous with Peking Man. Subsequently, Qian (1985) conducted further studies of the age of Yuanmou Man, but still obtained an age of 1.7 Ma, or Early Pleistocene. These investigations initiated beneficial discussion, although further conflicting opinions persist regarding depositional environment, paleoclimatology, glaciation, and other aspects.[4]

According to Qian et al. (1991), palaeomagnetic dates from near where the teeth were recovered average 1.7 Ma. Older research by Liu and Ding (1984) noted that the faunal sequence at the site was inverted, with more extinct species in the upper levels than deeper in the deposit, and based on this evidence they suggest to put the age of the Yuanmou man into the Middle Pleistocene, that is about 0.5 - 0.6 Ma.[5]


  1. ^ Li, Pu; Chien, Fang; Ma, Hsing-Hua; Pu, Ching-Yu; Hsing, Li-Sheng; Chu, Shih-Chiang (1977). "Preliminary study on the age of Yuanmou man by palaeomagnetic technique". Scientia Sinica. 20 (5): 645–64. PMID 339347.
  2. ^ Ciochon RL. (2009). The mystery ape of Pleistocene Asia. Nature. 459: 910-911. doi:10.1038/459910a. This piece in Nature is based on a contribution to the forthcoming book Out of Africa I: Who, When and Where? (eds, Fleagle, J. G. et al. Springer, 2009)
  3. ^ Geoffrey G. Pope. Evidence on the Age of the Asian Hominidae Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1983) 80:4988-92
  4. ^ a b Qian F, Li Q, Wu P, Yuan S, Xing R, Chen H, and Zhang H (1991). Lower Pleistocene, Yuanmou Formation: Quaternary Geology and Paleoanthropology of Yuanmou, Yunnan, China. Beijing: Science Press, pp. 17-50
  5. ^ Inverted strata

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