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Peking Man 270,000 years older than thought

THE ancient Chinese human fossils of Peking Man are at least 270,000 years older than previously thought, an archaeologist said yesterday.

Using a new dating method, a group of Beijing archaeologists concluded that the Peking Man fossils are about 770,000 years old, which was reported in the British journal Nature. Previous estimates said the fossils were 230,000 to 500,000 years.

The new date indicates that "this early human ancestor prospered in an earlier colder climate," said Xing Gao, one of the archaeologists from Beijing's Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

"It will lead us to rethink how these early hominins could adapt to the colder environment. Probably it provides further evidence that the early hominins used fire regularly."

In an accompanying article, Russell Ciochon at the University of Iowa, said the study "prompts a rethink of the species' distribution in both the temperate north and equatorial south of east Asia."

The Beijing archaeologists said they used a new method of dating quartz from Zhoukoudian in the southwestern suburb of Beijing, where the Peking Man fossils were discovered in the 1920s.

The archaeologists said they planned to use the new findings to re-examine other paleoanthropology sites.


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