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The Story of Peking Man

The Story of Peking Man
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At the end of the nineteenth century in China, amateur fossil hunters knew that a ready supply of fossils could be found in backstreet Chinese apothecaries. They were sold as 'dragon bones', to be ground down and made into powerful medicines. When the sources of these fossils were tracked down they revealed sites rich with the remains of horses, rhinoceroses, elephants ... and the ancestors of mankind.

Set against a background of squabbling Chinese warlords and the Japanese occupation, a team of Chinese and Europeans worked diligently in primitive and often dangerous conditions to uncover the origins of man. What they found was one of the most famous hominid fossils of all time-Peking Man.

Penny van Oosterzee has written a riveting historical account of the discovery of Peking Man, from the excavation of one small fossilised molar to the mysterious disappearance of the fossils at the beginning of World War II.

The debate about whether modern humans developed in Africa and then spread to the rest of the world or evolved in different parts of the world is an ongoing and passionate one between anthropologists and is always being reported in the media. Recent findings by Australian anthropologist Alan Thorne have re-kindled this debate world-wide. This story is directly relevant to that debate.

Allen & Unwin; October 2001
214 pages; ISBN 9781741154146
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