• Zhoukoudian

  • Davidson Black

  • Transformation of the Rockefeller Foundation

  • An Historic Find and a Cold-Blooded Campaign

  • Fire and Tools at Zhoukoudian

  • Signs of Cannibalism

  • The Fossils Disappear A Case of Intellectual Dishonesty

  • Dating by Morphology

  • Further Discoveries in China


After the discoveries of Java man and Piltdown man, ideas about human evolution remained unsettled. Dubois's Pithecanthropus erectus fossils did not win complete acceptance among the scientific community, and Piltdown simply complicated the matter. Scientists waited eagerly for the next important discoveries—which they hoped would clarify the evolutionary development of the Hominidae. Many thought the desired hominid fossils would be found in China.

The ancient Chinese called fossils dragon bones. Believing dragon bones to possess curative powers, Chinese druggists have for centuries powdered them for use in remedies and potions. For early Western paleontologists, Chinese drug shops therefore provided an unexpected hunting ground.

In 1900, Dr. K. A. Haberer collected mammalian fossils from Chinese druggists and sent them to the University of Munich, where they were studied and catalogued by Max Schlosser. Among the specimens, Schlosser found a tooth from the Beijing area that appeared to be a "left upper-third molar, either of a man or hitherto unknown anthropoid ape."


Schlosser suggested China would be a good place to search for primitive man.



Among those who agreed with Schlosser was Gunnar Andersson, a Swedish geologist employed by the Geological Survey of China. In 1918, Andersson visited a place called Chikushan, or Chicken Bone Hill, near the village of Zhoukoudian, 25 miles southwest of Beijing. There, on the working face of an old limestone quarry, he saw a fissure of red clay containing fossil bones, indicating the presence of an ancient cave, now filled in.

In 1921, Andersson again visited the Chikushan site. He was accompanied by Otto Zdansky, an Austrian paleontologist who had been sent to assist him, and Walter M. Granger, of the American Museum of Natural History. Their first excavations were not very productive, resulting only in the discovery of some fairly recent fossils.

Then some of the local villagers told Zdansky about a nearby place with bigger dragon bones, near the small Zhoukoudian railway station. Here Zdansky found another limestone quarry, the walls of which, like the first, had fissures filled with red clay and broken bones. Andersson visited the site and discovered some broken pieces of quartz, which he thought might be very primitive tools.


Quartz did not occur naturally at the site, so Andersson reasoned that the quartz pieces must have been brought there by a hominid. Zdansky, who did not get along very well with Andersson, disagreed with this interpretation.

Andersson, however, remained convinced. Looking at the limestone wall, he said, "I have a feeling that there lies here the remains of one of our ancestors and it's only a question of finding him." He asked Zdansky to keep searching the filled-in cave, saying, "Take your time and stick to it until the cave is emptied if need be."

In 1921 and 1923, Zdansky, somewhat reluctantly, conducted brief excavations. He uncovered signs of an early human precursor—two teeth, tentatively dated to the Early Pleistocene. The teeth, a lower premolar and an upper molar, were crated up with other fossils and shipped to Sweden for further study. Back in Sweden, Zdansky published a paper in 1923 on his work in China, with no mention of the teeth.

There the matter rested until 1926. In that year, the Crown Prince of Sweden, who was chairman of the Swedish China Research Committee and a patron of paleontological research, planned to visit Beijing. Professor Wiman of the University of Uppsala, asked Zdansky, his former student, if he had come across anything interesting that could be presented to the Prince. Zdansky sent Wiman a report, with photographs, about the teeth he had found at Zhoukoudian.


The report was presented by J. Gunnar Andersson to a meeting in Beijing, attended by the Crown Prince. Andersson declared in regard to the teeth:

"The man I predicted had been found."


Another person who thought Zdansky's teeth represented clear evidence of fossil man was Davidson Black, a young Canadian physician residing in Beijing.

Davidson Black graduated from the University of Toronto medical school in 1906. But he was far more interested in human evolution than medicine. Black believed humans had evolved in northern Asia, and he desired to go to China to find the fossil evidence to prove this theory. But the First World War delayed his plans.

In 1917, Black joined the Canadian military medical corps. Meanwhile, a friend, Dr. E. V. Cowdry, was named head of the anatomy department at the Rockefeller Foundation's Beijing Union Medical College. Cowdry asked Dr. Simon Flexner, director of the Rockefeller Foundation, to appoint Black as his assistant. Flexner did so, and in 1919, after his release from the military, Black arrived in Beijing. At the Beijing Union Medical College, Black did everything possible to minimize his medical duties so he could concentrate on his real interest—paleoanthropology. In November 1921, he went on a brief expedition to a site in northern China, and other expeditions followed. Black's superiors were not pleased.

But gradually the Rockefeller Foundation would be won over to Black's point of view. The series of events that caused this change to take place is worth looking into.

Late in 1922, Black submitted a plan for a Thailand expedition to Dr. Henry S. Houghton, director of the medical school. Black expertly related his passion for paleoanthropology to the mission of the medical school.


Houghton wrote to Roger Greene, the school's business director:

"While I cannot be certain that the project which Black has in mind is severely practical in its nature, I must confess that I have been deeply impressed by . . . the valuable relationship he has been able to establish between our department of anatomy and the various institutions and expeditions which are doing important work in China in the fields which touch closely upon anthropology research. With these points in mind I recommend the granting of his request."

Here can be seen the importance of the intellectual prestige factor—ordinary medicine seems quite pedestrian in comparison with the quasi-religious quest for the secret of human origins, a quest that had, since Darwin's time, fired the imaginations of scientists all over the world. Houghton was clearly influenced. The expedition took place during Black's summer vacation in 1923, but unfortunately produced no results.

In 1926, Black attended the scientific meeting at which J. Gunnar Andersson presented to the Crown Prince of Sweden the report on the molars found by Zdansky at Zhoukoudian in 1923.


Excited on learning of the teeth, Black accepted a proposal by Andersson for further excavations at Zhoukoudian, to be carried out jointly by the Geological Survey of China and Black's department at the Beijing Union Medical School. Dr. Amadeus Grabau of the Geological Survey of China called the hominid for which they would search "Beijing man." Black requested funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and to his delight he received a generous grant.

By spring 1927, work was underway at Zhoukoudian, in the midst of the Chinese civil war. During several months of painstaking excavation, there were no discoveries of any hominid remains. Finally, with the cold autumn rains beginning to fall, marking the end of the first season's digging, a single hominid tooth was uncovered. On the basis of this tooth, and the two previously reported by Zdansky (now in Black's possession), Black decided to announce the discovery of a new kind of fossil hominid. He called it Sinanthropus—China man.

Black was eager to show the world his discovery. In the course of his travels with his newly found tooth, Black discovered that not everyone shared his enthusiasm for Sinanthropus. For example, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists in 1928, some of the members heavily criticized Black for proposing a new genus on so little evidence.

Black kept making the rounds, showing the tooth to Ales Hrdlicka in the United States and then journeying to England, where he met Sir Arthur Keith and Sir Arthur Smith Woodward. At the British Museum, Black had casts made of the Beijing man molars, for distribution to other workers. This is the kind of propaganda work necessary to bring a discovery to the attention of the scientific community. Even for a scientist political skills are not unimportant.

On returning to China, Black kept in close touch with the excavations at Zhoukoudian. For months nothing turned up. But Black wrote to Keith on December 5, 1928:

"It would seem that there is a certain magic about the last few days of the season's work for again two days before it ended Bohlin found the right half of the lower jaw of Sinanthropus with the three permanent molars in situ."



Now a financial problem loomed. The Rockefeller Foundation grant that supported the digging would run out in April of 1929. So in January Black wrote the directors, asking them to support the Zhoukoudian excavations by creating a Cenozoic Research Laboratory (the Cenozoic includes the periods from the Paleocene to the Holocene). In April, Black received the funds he desired.

Just a few years before, Rockefeller Foundation officials had actively discouraged Black from becoming too involved in paleoanthropological research. Now they were backing him to the hilt, setting up an institute specifically devoted to searching for remains of fossil human ancestors. Why had the Rockefeller Foundation so changed its attitude toward Black and his work?


This question bears looking into, because the financial contribution of foundations would turn out to be vital to human evolution research carried out by scientists like Black. Foundation support would also prove important in broadcasting the news of the finds and their significance to the waiting world.

As Warren Weaver, a scientist and Rockefeller Foundation official, wrote in 1967:

"In a perfect world an idea could be born, nourished, developed and made known to everyone, criticized and perfected, and put to good use without the crude fact of financial support ever entering into the process. Seldom, if ever, in the practical world in which we live, does this occur."

For Weaver, biological questions were of the highest importance. He regarded the highly publicized particle accelerators and space exploration programs as something akin to scientific fads. He added:

"The opportunities not yet rigorously explored lie in the understanding of the nature of living things. It seemed clear in 1932, when the Rockefeller Foundation launched its quarter-century program in that area, that the biological and medical sciences were ready for a friendly invasion by the physical sciences. . . . the tools are now available for discovering, on the most disciplined and precise level of molecular actions, how man's central nervous system really operates, how he thinks, learns, remembers, and forgets. . . .


Apart from the fascination of gaining some knowledge of the nature of the mind-brain-body relationship, the practical values in such studies are potentially enormous. Only thus may we gain information about our behavior of the sort that can lead to wise and beneficial control."

It thus becomes clear that at the same time the Rockefeller Foundation was channeling funds into human evolution research in China, it was in the process of developing an elaborate plan to fund biological research with a view to developing methods to effectively control human behavior. Black's research into Beijing man must be seen within this context in order to be properly understood.

Over the past few decades, science has developed a comprehensive cosmology that explains the origin of human beings as the culmination of a 4-billion-year process of chemical and biological evolution on this planet, which formed in the aftermath of the Big Bang, the event that marked the beginning of the universe some 16 billion years ago. The Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, founded upon particle physics and astronomical observations suggesting we live in an expanding cosmos, is thus inextricably connected with the theory of the biochemical evolution of all life forms, including human beings.


The major foundations, especially the Rockefeller Foundation, provided key funding for the initial research supporting this materialistic cosmology, which has for all practical purposes pushed God and the soul into the realm of mythology—at least in the intellectual centers of modern civilization.

All this is quite remarkable, when one considers that John D. Rockefeller's charity was initially directed toward Baptist churches and missions. Raymond D. Fosdick, an early president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that both Rockefeller and his chief financial adviser, Baptist educator Frederick T. Gates, were "inspired by deep religious conviction."

In 1913, the present Rockefeller Foundation was organized. The trustees included Frederick T. Gates; John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; Dr. Simon Flexner, head of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research; Henry Pratt Judson, president of the University of Chicago; Charles William Eliot, former president of Harvard; and A. Barton Hepburn, president of the Chase National Bank. Alongside this new foundation, other Rockefeller charities continued to operate.

At first, the Rockefeller Foundation concentrated its attention on public health, medicine, agriculture, and education, avoiding anything controversial. Thus the Foundation began to distance itself from religion, particularly the Baptist Church.


Exactly why this happened is difficult to say. Perhaps Rockefeller was coming to realize that his fortune was founded on exploiting the advances of modern science and technology. Perhaps it was the increasing role that science was beginning to play in the objects of traditional charitable giving—such as medicine. But whatever the reason, Rockefeller began to staff his foundation with scientists, and the giving policies reflected this change.

Even Gates, the former Baptist educator, seemed to be changing his tune. He wanted to create a nonsectarian university in China. But he noted that the "missionary bodies at home and abroad were distinctly and openly, even threateningly hostile to it as tending to infidelity." Furthermore, the Chinese government wanted control, an idea that the Foundation could not support.

Charles W. Eliot, who had overseen the Harvard Medical School in Shanghai, proposed a solution: a medical college, which would serve as an opening to the rest of Western science. Here mechanistic science shows itself a quiet but nevertheless militant ideology, skillfully promoted by the combined effort of scientists, educators, and wealthy industrialists, with a view towards establishing worldwide intellectual dominance.

The medical college strategy outlined by Eliot worked. The Chinese government approved establishment of the Beijing Union Medical College under Foundation auspices. Meanwhile, Dr. Wallace Buttrick, director of Rockefeller's newly created China Medical Board, negotiated with the Protestant mission hospitals already in China. He agreed to provide financial support for these hospitals, in effect bribing them.

In 1928, the Rockefeller Foundation and other Rockefeller charities underwent changes to reflect the growing importance of scientific research. All programs "relating to the advance of human knowledge" were shifted to the Rockefeller Foundation, which was reorganized into five divisions: international health, medical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The change reached right to the top, with Dr. Max Mason, a scientist himself, taking over as president. Mason, a mathematical physicist, was formerly president of the University of Chicago.


According to Raymond D. Fosdick, Mason,

"emphasized the structural unity involved in the new orientation of program. It was not to be five programs, each represented by a division of the Foundation; it was to be essentially one program, directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding."

Black's Beijing man research therefore took place within the larger framework of the explicitly stated goal of the Rockefeller Foundation, which reflected the implicit goal of big science—control, by scientists, of human behavior.



With the financial backing of the Rockefeller Foundation for the Cenozoic Research Laboratory secure, Black resumed his travels for the purpose of promoting Beijing man. He then returned to China, where work was proceeding slowly at Zhoukodian, with no new major Sinanthropus finds reported. Enthusiasm seemed to be waning among the workers.

But then on the first of December, at the very end of the season, Pei Wenzhong made an historic find. Pei later wrote:

"I encountered the almost complete skull of Sinanthropus. The specimen was imbedded partly in loose sands and partly in a hard matrix so that it was possible to extricate it with relative ease."

Pei then rode 25 miles on a bicycle to the Cenozoic Research Laboratory, where he presented the skull to Black.

The discovery made Black a media sensation. In September of 1930, Sir Grafton Elliot Smith arrived in Beijing to inspect the site of the discovery and examine the fossils. During Smith's stay, Black primed him for a propaganda blitz in America on behalf of Beijing man. Smith then departed and apparently did his job well.


In December, Black wrote an extremely candid letter to Dr. Henry Houghton, director of the Beijing medical school, who was vacationing in America:

"If I blushed every time I thought of the cold-blooded advertising campaign I thought of and G. E. S. has carried through, I'd be permanently purple."

Black's newly won fame insured continued access to Rockefeller Foundation funds. Black wrote to Sir Arthur Keith:

"We had a cable from Elliot Smith yesterday so he is evidently safe home after his strenuous trip. He characteristically has not spared himself in serving the interests of the Survey and the Cenozoic Laboratory and after his popularizing Sinanthropus for us in America I should have a relatively easy task before me a year from now when I will have to ask for more money from the powers that be."

Beijing man had come at just the right moment for advocates of human evolution. A few years previously, in one of the most famous trials in the world's history, a Tennessee court had found John T. Scopes guilty of teaching evolution in violation of state law. Scientists wanted to fight back hard. Thus any new evidence bearing on the question of human evolution was highly welcome.

Then there had been the matter of Hesperopithecus, a highly publicized prehistoric ape-man constructed in the minds of paleoanthropologists from a single humanlike tooth found in Nebraska. To the embarrassment of the scientists who had promoted this human ancestor, the humanlike tooth had turned out to be that of a fossil pig.

Meanwhile, the lingering doubts and continuing controversy about Dubois's Pithecanthropus erectus also needed to be resolved.


In short, scientists in favor of evolutionary ideas, reacting to external threat and internal disarray, were in need of a good discovery to rally their cause.



It was in 1931 that reports showing extensive use of fire and the presence of well-developed stone and bone tools at Zhoukoudian were first published. What is quite unusual about these announcements is that systematic excavations had been conducted at Zhoukoudian by competent investigators since 1927, with no mention of either fire or stone tools.


For example, Black wrote in 1929:

"Though thousands of cubic meters of material from this deposit have been examined, no artifacts of any nature have yet been encountered nor has any trace of the usage of fire been observed."

But only a couple of years later, other researchers, such as Henri Breuil, were reporting thick beds of ash and were finding hundreds of stone tools in the exact same locations.

In 1931, Black and others, apparently embarrassed by the new revelations about fire and tools from Zhoukoudian, sought to explain how such important evidence had for several years escaped their attention. They said they had noticed signs of fire and tools but they had been so uncertain about them they did not mention them in their reports.

Concerning the failure of Teilhard de Chardin, Black, Pei, and others to report abundant tools and signs of fire at Zhoukoudian, there are two possible explanations. The first is the one they themselves gave—they simply overlooked the evidence or had so many doubts about it that they did not feel justified in reporting it. The second possibility is that they were very much aware of the signs of fire and stone tools, before Breuil reported them, but deliberately withheld this information.

But why? At the time the discoveries were made at Zhoukoudian, fire and stone tools at a site were generally taken as signs of Homo sapiens or Neanderthals. According to Dubois and von Koenigswald, no stone tools or signs of usage of fire were found in connection with Pithecanthropus erectus in Java. The Selenka expedition did report remnants of hearths at Trinil, but this information did not attain wide circulation.

So perhaps the original investigators of Zhoukoudian purposefully held back from reporting stone tools and fire because they were aware such things might have confused the status of Sinanthropus. Doubters might have very well attributed the fire and tools to a being contemporary with, yet physically and culturally more advanced than Sinanthropus, thus removing Sinanthropus from his position as a new and important human ancestor.

As we shall see, that is what did happen once the tools and signs of fire became widely known.


For example, Breuil said in 1932 about the relationship of Sinanthropus to the tools and signs of fire:

"Several distinguished scientists have independently expressed to me the thought that a being so physically removed from Man. . . . was not capable of the works I have just described. In this case, the skeletal remains of Sinanthropus could be considered as simple hunting trophies, attributable, as were the traces of fire and industry, to a true Man, whose remains have not yet been found."

But Breuil himself thought that Sinanthropus was the manufacturer of tools and maker of fire at Zhoukoudian.

Modern investigators have tended to confirm Breuil's views. Sinanthropus is usually pictured as an expert hunter, who killed animals with stone tools and cooked them on fires in the cave at Zhoukoudian.

A somewhat different view of Sinanthropus is provided by Lewis R. Binford and Chuan Kun Ho, anthropologists at the University of New Mexico.


Concerning the ash deposits, they stated:

"It would appear that at least some of them were originally huge guano accumulations inside the cave. In some cases, these massive organic deposits could have burned. . . . The assumption that man introduced and distributed the fire is unwarranted, as is the assumption that burned bones and other materials are there by virtue of man's cooking his meals."

Binford and Ho's theory that the ash deposits are composed mostly of bird droppings has not received unanimous support. But their assertions about the unreliability of the common picture of Beijing man, drawn from the presence of bones, ashes, and hominid remains at the site, are worthy of serious consideration.

The most that can be said of Beijing man, according to Binford and Ho, is that he was perhaps a scavenger who may or may not have used primitive stone tools to cut meat from carcasses left by carnivores in a large cave where organic materials sometimes burned for long periods.


Or perhaps Beijing man was himself prey to the cave's carnivores, for it seems unlikely he would have voluntarily entered such a cave, even to scavenge.



On March 15, 1934, Davidson Black was found at his work desk, dead of a heart attack. He was clutching his reconstruction of the skull of Sinanthropus in his hand. Shortly after Black's death, Franz Weidenreich assumed leadership of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory and wrote a comprehensive series of reports on the Beijing man fossils. According to Weidenreich, the fossil remains of Sinanthropus individuals, particularly the skulls, suggested they had been the victims of cannibalism.

Most of the hominid bones discovered in the cave at Zhoukoudian were cranial fragments. Weidenreich particularly noted that the relatively complete skulls all lacked portions of the central part of the base. He observed that in modern Melanesian skulls "the same injuries occur as the effects of ceremonial cannibalism."


Besides the missing basal sections, Weidenreich also noted other signs that might possibly be attributed to the deliberate application of force. For example, some of the skulls showed impact marks of a type that "can only occur if the bone is still in a state of plasticity," indicating that "the injuries described must have been inflicted during life or soon after death." Some of the few long bones of Sinanthropus found at Zhoukoudian also displayed signs that to Weidenreich suggested human breakage, perhaps for obtaining marrow.

As to why mostly cranial fragments were found, Weidenreich believed that except for a few long bones, only heads were carried into the caves. He stated:

"The strange selection of human bones . . . has been made by Sinanthropus himself. He hunted his own kin as he hunted other animals and treated all his victims in the same way."

Some modern authorities have suggested that Weidenreich was mistaken in his interpretation of the fossil remains of Sinanthropus. Binford and Ho pointed out that hominid skulls subjected to transport over river gravel are found with the basal section worn away. But the skulls recovered from Zhoukoudian were apparently not transported in this fashion.

Binford and Ho proposed that carnivores had brought the hominid bones into the caves. But Weidenreich wrote in 1935:

"Transportation by . . . beasts of prey is impossible. . . . traces of biting and gnawing ought to have been visible on the human bones, which is not the case."

Weidenreich felt that cannibalism among Sinanthropus individuals was the most likely explanation.

But Marcellin Boule, director of the Institute de Paleontologie Humaine in France, suggested another possibility—namely, that Sinanthropus had been hunted by a more intelligent type of hominid. Boule believed that the small cranial capacity of Sinanthropus implied that this hominid was not sufficiently intelligent to have made either fires or the stone and bone implements that were discovered in the cave.

If the remains of Sinanthropus were the trophies of a more intelligent hunter, who was that hunter and where were his remains? Boule pointed out that there are many caves in Europe that have abundant products of Paleolithic human industry, but the "proportion of deposits that have yielded the skulls or skeletons of the manufacturers of this industry is infinitesimal."

Therefore, the hypothesis that a more intelligent species of hominid hunted Sinanthropus is not ruled out simply because its fossil bones have not yet been found at Zhoukoudian. From our previous chapters, it may be recalled that there is evidence, from other parts of the world, of fully human skeletal remains from periods of equal and greater antiquity than that represented by Zhoukoudian.


For example, the fully human skeletal remains found at Castenedolo in Italy are from the Pliocene period, over 2 million years ago.



As we have previously mentioned, one reason that it may be difficult to resolve many of the questions surrounding Beijing man is that the original fossils are no longer available for study. By 1938, excavations at Zhoukoudian, under the direction of Weidenreich, were halted by guerilla warfare in the surrounding Western Hills. Later, with the Second World War well underway, Weidenreich left for the United States in April of 1941, carrying a set of casts of the Beijing man fossils.

In the summer of 1941, it is said, the original bones were packed in two footlockers and delivered to Colonel Ashurst of the U.S. Marine Embassy Guard in Beijing. In early December of 1941, the footlockers were reportedly placed on a train bound for the port of Chinwangtao, where they were to be loaded onto an American ship, the President Harrison, as part of the U.S. evacuation from China.


But on December 7, the train was intercepted, and the fossils were never seen again.


After World War II, the Chinese Communist government continued the excavations at Zhoukoudian, adding a few fossils to the prewar discoveries.



In an article about Zhoukoudian that appeared in the June 1983 issue of Scientific American, two Chinese scientists, Wu Rukang and Lin Shenglong, presented misleading evidence for human evolution.

Wu and Lin made two claims:

(1) The cranial capacity of Sinanthropus increased from the lowest level of the Zhoukoudian excavation (460,000 years old) to the highest level (230,000 years old), indicating that Sinanthropus evolved towards Homo sapiens.

(2) The type and distribution of stone tools also implied that Sinanthropus evolved.

In support of their first claim, Wu and Lin analyzed the cranial capacities of the 6 relatively complete Sinanthropus skulls found at Zhoukoudian. Wu and Lin stated:

"The measured cranial capacities are 915 cubic centimeters for the earliest skull, an average of 1075 cubic centimeters for four later skulls and 1140 cubic centimeters for the most recent one."

From this set of relationships, Wu and Lin concluded:

"It seems the brain size increased by more than 100 cubic centimeters during the occupation of the cave."

A chart in the Scientific American article showed the positions and sizes of the skulls found at Zhoukoudian Locality 1. But in their explanation of this chart, Wu and Lin neglected to state that the earliest skull, found at layer 10, belonged to a child, who according to Franz Weidenreich died at age 8 or 9 and according to Davidson Black died between ages 11 and 13.


Wu and Lin also neglected to mention that one of the skulls discovered in layers 8 and 9 (skull X) had a cranial capacity of 1,225 cc, which is 85 cc larger than the most recent skull, found in layer 3. When all the data is presented, it is clear that there is no steady increase in cranial capacity from 460,000 to 230,000 years ago.

In addition to discussing an evolutionary increase in cranial capacity, Wu and Lin noted a trend toward smaller tools in the Zhoukoudian cave deposits. They also reported that the materials used to make the tools in the recent levels were superior to those used in the older levels. The recent levels featured more high-quality quartz, more flint, and less sandstone than the earlier levels.

But a change in the technological skill of a population does not imply that the population has evolved physiologically. For example, consider residents of Germany in 1400 and residents of Germany in 1990. The technological differences are awesome—jet planes and cars instead of horses; television and telephone instead of unaided vision and voice; tanks and missiles instead of swords and bows. Yet one would be in error if one concluded that the Germans of 1990 were physiologically more evolved than the Germans of 1400. Hence, contrary to the claim of Wu and Lin, the distribution of various kinds of stone tools does not imply that Sinanthropus evolved.

The report of Wu and Lin, especially their claim of increased cranial capacity in Sinanthropus during the Zhoukoudian cave occupation, shows that one should not uncritically accept all one reads about human evolution in scientific journals.


It appears the scientific community is so committed to its evolutionary doctrine that any article purporting to demonstrate it can pass without much scrutiny.



Although Zhoukoudian is the most famous paleoanthropological site in China, there are many others. These sites have yielded fossils representative of early Homo erectus, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and early Homo sapiens, thus providing an apparent evolutionary sequence. But the way in which this progression has been constructed is open to question.

As we have seen in our discussion of human fossil remains discovered in China and elsewhere, it is in most cases not possible to date them with a very high degree of precision.


Finds tend to occur within what we choose to call a "possible date range," and this range may be quite broad, depending upon the dating methods that are used. Such methods include chemical, radiometric, and geomagnetic dating techniques, as well as analysis of site stratigraphy, faunal remains, tool types, and the morphology of the hominid remains.


Furthermore, different scientists using the same methods often come up with different age ranges for particular hominid specimens. Unless one wants to uniformly consider the age judgment given most recently by a scientist as the correct one, one is compelled to take into consideration the entire range of proposed dates.

But here one can find oneself in difficulty. Imagine that a scientist reads several reports about two hominid specimens of different morphology. On the basis of stratigraphy and faunal comparisons, they are from roughly the same period. But this period stretches over several hundred thousand years. Repeated testing by different scientists using different paleomagnetic, chemical, and radiometric methods gives a wide spread of conflicting dates within this period.


Some test results indicate one specimen is the older, some that the other is the older. Analyzing all the published dates for the two specimens, our investigator finds that the possible date ranges broadly overlap. In other words, by these methods it proves impossible to determine which of the two came first.

What is to be done?


In some cases, as we shall show, scientists will decide, solely on the basis of their commitment to evolution, that the morphologically more apelike specimen should be moved to the early part of its possible date range, in order to remove it from the part of its possible date range that overlaps that of the morphologically more humanlike specimen.


As part of the same procedure, the more humanlike specimen can be moved to the later, or more recent, part of its own possible date range. Thus the two specimens are temporally separated. But keep in mind the following: this sequencing operation is performed primarily on the basis of morphology, in order to preserve an evolutionary progression. It would look bad to have two forms, one generally considered ancestral to the other, existing contemporaneously.

Here is an example. Chang Kwang-chih, an anthropologist from Yale University, stated:

"The faunal lists for Ma-pa, Ch'ang-yang, and Liu-chiang [hominid] finds offer no positive evidence for any precise dating. The former two fossils can be anywhere from the Middle to the Upper Pleistocene, as far as their associated fauna is concerned.

For a more precise placement of these three human fossils, one can only rely upon, at the present time, their own morphological features in comparison with other better-dated finds elsewhere in China."

This may be called dating by morphology.

Jean S. Aigner stated in 1981:

"In south China the faunas are apparently stable, making subdivision of the Middle Pleistocene difficult. Ordinarily the presence of an advanced hominid or relict form is the basis for determining later and earlier periods."

This is a very clear exposition of the rationale for morphological dating. The presence of an advanced hominid is taken as an unmistakable sign of a later period.

In other words, if we find an apelike hominid in connection with a certain Middle Pleistocene fauna at one site and a more humanlike hominid in connection with the same Middle Pleistocene fauna at another site, then we must, according to this system, conclude that the site with the more humanlike hominid is of a later Middle Pleistocene date than the other. The Middle Pleistocene, it may be recalled, extends from 100,000 to 1 million years ago. It is taken for granted that the two sites in question could not possibly be contemporaneous.

With this maneuver completed, the two fossil hominids, now set apart from each other temporally, are then cited in textbooks as evidence of an evolutionary progression in the Middle Pleistocene! This is an intellectually dishonest procedure. The honest thing to do would be to admit that the evidence does not allow one to say with certainty that one hominid preceded the other and that it is possible they were contemporary.


This would rule out using these particular hominids to construct a temporal evolutionary sequence. All one could honestly say is that both were found in the Middle Pleistocene. For all we know, the "more advanced" humanlike hominid may have preceded the "less advanced" apelike one. But by assuming that evolution is a fact, one can then "date" the hominids by their morphology and arrange the fossil evidence in a consistent manner.

Let us now consider a specific example of the date range problem. In 1985, Qiu Zhonglang reported that in 1971 and 1972 fossil teeth of Homo sapiens were found in the Yanhui cave near Tongzi, in Guizhou province, southern China. The Tongzi site contained a Stegodon-Ailuropoda fauna. Stegodon is a type of extinct elephant, and Ailuropoda is the giant panda. This Stegodon-Ailuropoda fauna is typical of southern China during the Middle Pleistocene.

The complete faunal list for the Tongzi site given by Han Defen and Xu Chunhua contains 24 kinds of mammals, all of which are also found in Middle (and Early) Pleistocene lists given by the same authors. But a great many of the genera and species listed are also known to have survived to the Late Pleistocene and the present.

The author of the report on the Tongzi discoveries stated:

"The Yanhui Cave was the first site containing fossils of Homo sapiens discovered anywhere in the province... The fauna suggests a Middle-Upper Pleistocene range, but the archaeological [human] evidence is consistent with an Upper [Late] Pleistocene age."

In other words, the presence of Homo sapiens fossils was the determining factor in assigning a Late Pleistocene age to the site. This is a clear example of dating by morphology. But according to the faunal evidence reported by Qiu, all that can really be said is that the age of the Homo sapiens fossils could be anywhere from Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene.

There is, however, stratigraphic evidence suggesting a strictly Middle Pleistocene range. Qiu gave the following information:

"The deposits in the cave contain seven layers. The human fossils, stone artifacts, burned bones, and mammalian fossils were all unearthed in the fourth layer, a stratum of greyish-yellow sand and gravel."

This concentration in a single layer suggests that the human remains and the animal fossils, all of mammals found at Middle Pleistocene sites, are roughly contemporaneous. And yellow cave deposits in South China are generally thought to be Middle Pleistocene.

Our own analysis of the faunal list also suggests it is reasonable to narrow the age range to the Middle Pleistocene. Stegodon, present at Tongzi, is generally said to have existed from the Pliocene to the Middle Pleistocene. In a list of animals considered important for dating sites in South China, Aigner indicated that Stegodon orientalis survived only to the late Middle Pleistocene, although she did place a question mark after this entry.

A strictly Middle Pleistocene age for the Tongzi cave fauna is also supported by the presence of a species whose extinction by the end of the Middle Pleistocene is thought to be more definite. In her list of mammals considered important for dating sites in South China, Aigner included, in addition to Stegodon orientalis, other species found at Tongzi. Among them is Megatapirus (giant tapir), which Aigner said is confined to the Middle Pleistocene.


The species found at Tongzi is listed by Chinese researchers as Megatapirus augustus. Aigner characterized Megatapirus augustus as a "large fossil form of the mid-Middle Pleistocene south China collections." We suggest that Megatapirus augustus limits the most recent age of the Tongzi faunal collection to the end of the Middle Pleistocene.

Another marker fossil listed by Aigner is Crocuta crocuta (the living hyena), which first appeared in China during the middle Middle Pleistocene. Since Crocuta crocuta is present at Tongzi, this limits the oldest age of the Tongzi fauna to the beginning of the middle Middle Pleistocene.

In summary, using Megatapirus augustus and Crocuta crocuta as marker fossils, we can conclude that the probable date range for the Homo sapiens fossils found at Tongzi extends from the beginning of the middle Middle Pleistocene to the end of the late Middle Pleistocene.

So Qiu, in effect, extended the date ranges of some mammalian species in the Stegodon-Ailuropoda fauna (such as Megatapirus augustus) from the Middle Pleistocene into the early Late Pleistocene in order to preserve an acceptable date for the Homo sapiens fossils. Qiu's evolutionary preconceptions apparently demanded this operation.


Once it was carried out, the Tongzi Homo sapiens, placed safely in the Late Pleistocene, could then be introduced into a temporal evolutionary sequence and cited as proof of human evolution. If we place Tongzi Homo sapiens in the older part of its true faunal date range, in the middle Middle Pleistocene, he would be contemporary with Zhoukoudian Homo erectus. And that would not look very good in a textbook on fossil man in China.

We have carefully analyzed reports about several other Chinese sites, and we find that the same process of morphological dating has been used to temporally separate various kinds of hominids.


At Lantian, a Homo erectus skull was found in 1964. It was more primitive than Zhoukoudian Homo erectus. Various authors, such as J. S. Aigner, have therefore placed it earlier than Zhoukoudian Homo erectus. But our own analysis of the faunal evidence, site stratigraphy, and paleomagnetic dating shows the date range for the Lantian Homo erectus skull overlaps that of Zhoukoudian Homo erectus. The same is true for a Homo erectus jaw found at Lantian.

We do not, however, insist that the Lantian Homo erectus skull is contemporaneous with Homo erectus of Zhoukoudian Locality 1. Following our standard procedure, we simply extend the probable date range of primitive Lantian Homo erectus to include the time period represented by the Zhoukoudian occupation.

So now we have overlapping possible date ranges in the middle Middle Pleistocene for the following hominids:

(1) Lantian man, a primitive Homo erectus

(2) Beijing man, a more advanced Homo erectus

(3) Tongzi man, described as Homo sapiens

We are not insisting that these beings actually coexisted. Perhaps they did, perhaps they did not. What we are insisting on is this—scientists should not propose that the hominids definitely did not coexist simply on the basis of their morphological diversity. Yet this is exactly what has happened. Scientists have arranged Chinese fossil hominids in a temporal evolutionary sequence primarily by their physical type.


This methodology insures that no fossil evidence shall ever fall outside the realm of evolutionary expectations.


By using morphological differences in the fossils of hominids to resolve contradictory faunal, stratigraphic, chemical, radiometric, and geomagnetic datings in harmony with a favored evolutionary sequence, paleoanthropologists have allowed their preconceptions to obscure other possibilities.



In 1956, peasants digging for fertilizer in a cave near Maba, in Guangdong province, southern China, found a skull that was apparently from a primitive human being. There seems to be general agreement that the Maba skull is Homo sapiens with some Neanderthaloid features.

It is easy to see that scientists, in accordance with their evolutionary expectations, would want to place the Maba specimen in the very latest Middle Pleistocene or early Late Pleistocene, after Homo erectus. Although Maba might be as recent as the early Late Pleistocene, the animal bones found there were from mammals that lived not only in the Late Pleistocene, but also in the Middle Pleistocene, and even the Early Pleistocene. The principal justification for fixing the date of the Maba cave in the very latest part of the late Middle Pleistocene or in the early Late Pleistocene seems to be the morphology of the hominid remains.

Updating our list, we now find overlapping date ranges in the middle Middle Pleistocene for:

(1) primitive Homo erectus (Lantian)

(2) Homo erectus (Zhoukoudian)

(3) Homo sapiens (Tongzi)

(4) Homo sapiens with Neanderthaloid features (Maba)

The possibility that Homo erectus and more advanced hominids may have coexisted in China adds new fuel to the controversy about who was really responsible for the broken brain cases of Beijing man and the presence of advanced stone tools at Zhoukoudian Locality 1. Did several hominids, of various grades of advancement, really coexist in the middle Middle Pleistocene? We do not assert this categorically, but it is definitely within the range of possibilities suggested by the available data. In our study of the scientific literature, we have come upon no clear reason for ruling out coexistence other than the fact that the individuals are morphologically dissimilar.

Some will certainly claim that the fact of human evolution has been so conclusively established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that it is perfectly justifiable to engage in dating hominids by their morphology. But we believe this claim does not hold up under close scrutiny. As we have demonstrated in Chapters 2-7, abundant evidence contradicting current ideas about human evolution has been suppressed or forgotten. Furthermore, scientists have systematically overlooked shortcomings in the evidence that supposedly supports current evolutionary hypotheses.

If peasants digging for fertilizer in a Chinese cave had uncovered a fully human skull along with a distinctly Pliocene fauna, scientists would certainly have protested that no competent observers were present to conduct adequate stratigraphic studies. But since the Maba skull could be fitted into the standard evolutionary sequence, no one objected to its mode of discovery.

Even after one learns to recognize the highly questionable practice of morphological dating, one may be astonished to note how frequently it is used. In the field of human evolution research in China, it appears to be not the exception but the rule. The Homo sapiens maxilla (upper jaw) found by workers in 1956 at Longdong in Changyang county, Hubei Province, South China, has provided many authorities with a welcome opportunity for unabashed morphological dating.

The upper jaw, judged Homo sapiens with some primitive features, was found in association with the typical South China Middle Pleistocene fauna including Ailuropoda (panda) and Stegodon (extinct elephant). In 1962, Chang Kwang-chih of Yale University wrote:

"This fauna is generally believed to be of Middle Pleistocene age, and the scientists working on the cave suggest a late Middle Pleistocene dating, for the morphology of the maxilla shows less primitive features than does that of Sinanthropus."

It is clear that Chang's primary justification for assigning Changyang Homo sapiens a date later than Beijing Homo erectus was morphological.

In 1981, J. S. Aigner joined in with her statement:

"A Middle Pleistocene age is suggested by some of the fauna with the presence of the hominid which is considered near H. sapiens indicating a dating late in that period."

That scientists could confront the faunal evidence at Changyang without even considering the possibility that Homo sapiens coexisted in China with Homo erectus is amazing.


In this regard, Sir Arthur Keith wrote in 1931:

"It has so often happened in the past that the discovery of human remains in a deposit has influenced expert opinion as to its age; the tendency has been to interpret geological evidence so that it would not clash flagrantly with the theory of man's recent origin."

In 1958, workers found human fossils in the Liujiang cave in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of South China. These included a skull, vertebrae, ribs, pelvic bones, and a right femur. These anatomically modern human remains were found along with a typical Stegodon-Ailuropoda fauna, giving a date range for the site of the entire Middle Pleistocene. But Chinese scientists assigned the human bones to the Late Pleistocene, primarily because of their advanced morphology.

The Dali site in Shaanxi province has yielded a skull classified as Homo sapiens with primitive features. The Dali fauna contains animals that are all typical of the Middle Pleistocene and earlier.

Some Chinese paleoanthropologists suggest a late Middle Pleistocene age for Dali. While this may account for the human skull, the associated fauna does not dictate such a date. Rather it suggests for Dali Homo sapiens a possible date range extending further back into the Middle Pleistocene, overlapping, once more, Beijing man at Zhoukoudian Locality 1.

We thus conclude that Beijing man Homo erectus at Zhoukoudian Locality 1 may very well have lived at the same time as a variety of hominids—early Homo sapiens (some with Neanderthaloid features), Homo sapiens sapiens, and primitive Homo erectus.

In attempting to sort out this Middle Pleistocene hominid logjam, scientists have repeatedly used the morphology of the hominid fossils to select desirable dates within the total possible faunal date ranges of the sites. In this way, they have been able to preserve an evolutionary progression of hominids. Remarkably, this artificially constructed sequence, designed to fit evolutionary expectations, is then cited as proof of the evolutionary hypothesis.

For example, as we have several times demonstrated, a Homo sapiens specimen with a possible date range extending from the middle Middle Pleistocene (contemporary with Beijing man) to the Late Pleistocene will be pushed toward the more recent end of the date range. One would be equally justified in selecting a middle Middle Pleistocene date within the possible date range, even though this conflicts with evolutionary expectations.

We conclude our review of fossil hominid discoveries in China with some cases of sites regarded as Early Pleistocene. At Yuanmou, in Yunnan province, southwest China, geologists found two hominid teeth (incisors). According to Chinese scientists, these were more primitive than those of Beijing man. The teeth are believed to have belonged to an ancestor of Beijing man, a very primitive Homo erectus, descended from an Asian Australopithecus.

Stone tools—three scrapers, a stone core, a flake, and a point of quartz or quartzite—were later found at Yuanmou. Published drawings show the Yuanmou tools to be much like the European eoliths and the Oldowan industry of East Africa. Layers of cinders, containing mammalian fossils, were also found with the tools and hominid incisors.

The strata yielding the incisors gave a probable paleomagnetic date of 1.7 million years within a range of 1.6-1.8 million years. This date has been challenged, but leading Chinese scientists continue to accept it, pointing out that the mammal fossils are consistent with an Early Pleistocene age for the site.

There are, however, problems with an Early Pleistocene age for Yuanmou Homo erectus. Homo erectus is thought to have evolved from Homo habilis in Africa about 1.5 million years ago and migrated elsewhere about 1.0 million years ago. Homo habilis is not thought to have left Africa. Implicit in Jia's age estimate for the Yuanmou hominid is a separate origin for Homo erectus in China. Jia seems to require the presence in China about 2.0 million years ago of Australopithecus or Homo habilis, something forbidden by current theory.

In this regard, Lewis R. Binford and Nancy M. Stone stated in 1986:

"It should be noted that many Chinese scholars are still wedded to the idea that man evolved in Asia. This view contributes to the willingness of many to uncritically accept very early dates for Chinese sites and to explore the possibility of stone tools being found in Pliocene deposits."

One could also say that because Western scholars are wedded to the idea that humans evolved in Africa they uncritically reject very early dates for hominid fossils and artifacts around the world.

As previously mentioned, one need not suppose that either Africa or Asia was a center of evolution. There is, as shown in preceding chapters, voluminous evidence, much found by professional scientists, suggesting that humans of the modern type have lived on various continents, including South America, for tens of millions of years. And, during this same period, there is also evidence for various apelike creatures, some resembling humans more than others.

A question encountered in our discussions of anomalous cultural remains (Chapters 2-6) once more arises: why should one attribute the Early Pleistocene stone tools and signs of fire at Yuanmou to primitive Homo erectus?

The tools and signs of fire were not found close to the Homo erectus teeth. Furthermore, there is evidence from China itself and other parts of the world that Homo sapiens existed in the Early Pleistocene and earlier.

In 1960, Jia Lanpo investigated Early Pleistocene sand and gravel deposits at Xihoudu in northern Shanxi province. He found three stones with signs of percussion, and more artifacts turned up in 1961 and 1962. Because of Early Pleistocene faunal remains, the site was given an age of over a million years. Paleomagnetic dating yielded an age of 1.8 million years.


Cut bones and signs of fire were also found at Xihoudu. Jia believed Australopithecus was responsible for the artifacts and fire. But Australopithecus is not currently regarded as a maker of fire. Homo erectus, the Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens are the only hominids now thought capable of this.

J. S. Aigner, as one might well imagine, expressed strong reservations about Jia's evidence:

"Despite the strong support for Lower [Early] Pleistocene human activity in north China claimed for Hsihoutu [Xihoudu], I am reluctant to accept unequivocally the materials at this time. . . . if Hsihoutu is verified, then humans occupied the north of China some 1,000,000 years ago and utilized fire. This would call into question some of our current assumptions about both the course of human evolution and the adaptational capabilities of early hominids."

If one could, however, become detached from current assumptions, interesting possibilities open up.

This ends our review of discoveries in China. We have seen that age determinations of fossil hominids have been distorted by "morphological dating."


When these ages are adjusted to reflect reasonable faunal date ranges, the total evidence fails to exclusively support an evolutionary hypothesis.


Rather, the evidence appears also consistent with the proposal that anatomically modern human beings have coexisted with a variety of humanlike creatures throughout the Pleistocene.


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