Science News

China hails "greatest discovery since Peking Man"

BEIJING (Reuters) - An almost complete human skull fossil that could date back 100,000 years has been unearthed in China, state media said on Wednesday, hailing it as the greatest discovery since Peking Man.

Last month’s find in Xuchang, in the central province of Henan, was made after two years of excavation just as two archaeologists were leaving for the Lunar New Year break, the China Daily said.

“We expect more discoveries of importance,” Li Zhanyang, archaeologist with the Henan Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, was quoted as saying.

The fossil consists of 16 pieces of the skull with protruding eyebrows and a small forehead.

“More astonishing than the completeness of the skull is that it still has a fossilized membrane on the inner side, so scientists can track the nerves of the Palaeolithic ancestors,” Li was quoted as saying.

Besides the skull, more than 30,000 animal fossils, and stone and bone artefacts were found.

“The pieces of the human skull showed up just when archaeologists were going home for the Spring Festival,” the newspaper said, referring to the New Year holiday which officially begins next month.

Peking Man was discovered in the 1920s near Beijing and dates back roughly to between 250,000 and 400,000 years.

Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Katie Nguyen