Early Homo and associated artefacts from Asia
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The site of Longgupo Cave was discovered in 1984 and excavated in 1985-1988 by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (Beijing) and the Chongqing National Museum (Sichuan Province). Important finds include very archaic hominid dental fragments, Gigantopithecus teeth and primitive stone tools. Palaeomagnetic analysis and the presence of Ailuropoda microta (pygmy giant panda) suggested that the hominid-bearing levels dated to the earliest Pleistocene. In 1992, joint Chinese-American-Canadian geochronological research corroborated the age using electron spin resonance (ESR) analysis. We report here that the hominid dentition and stone tools from Longgupo Cave are comparable in age and morphology with early representives of the genus Homo (H. habilis and H. ergaster) and the Oldowan technology in East Africa. The Longgupo dentition is demonstrably more primitive than that seen in Asian Homo erectus. Longgupo's diverse and well preserved Plio-Pleistocene fauna of 116 species provide a sensitive contextual base for interpreting the early arrival of the genus Homo in Asia.
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