Homo erectus lantianensis

Brief introduction

Homo erectus lantianensis is a fossil homo erectus from China. It is often called Homo erectus lantianensis, the scientific name of Homo erectus lantianensis. It lived in the middle Pleistocene and early Paleolithic period.


Homo erectus lantianensis

Discovery process

The Lantian Man was discovered in 1963 in Shaanxi Province, China, near the village of Chenjiawo in Lantian County, with the fossilized skull of a woman in her 30s. In July 1963, a survey team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, while conducting a field survey, discovered the fossilized jawbone of an elderly woman in Chenjiawo, in the town of Tellhu, about 10 km northwest of Lantian County. In May of the following year, a basically well-preserved middle-aged female skull fossil was found in the Gongwangling stratum. After indoor restoration of this skull fossil, a complete ape skull fossil was recovered. The original researchers grouped the mandible from Chenjiawo and the skull from Gongwangling together and named them “Lantian Chinese Apes”, or “Lantian Apes” or “Lantian Man” for short. However, many scholars believe that the degree of primitiveness shown by these two specimens is obviously different, and that the two sites have different eras, so it is suggested that the skull from Gongwangling be given a new species “Lantian Man”, and the mandible from Chenjiawo be given the scientific name “Homo erectus Chenjiawo subspecies”. The name “Chenjiawo Man” can also be given to Chenjiawo. Lantian Man is a fossil of early man in China. The forehead is low and wide, the brow bone is thick and elevated, the bone wall is thick, the eye socket is slightly square, and the mouth is forward. The inner ear of the skull is 71 mm high, and the brain volume is 778.4 ml, which is basically equivalent to 775-900 ml of Javanese in Indonesia.

It was determined to be about 500,000 years old, later than the Gongwangling fossil. Some people refer to this fossil also as Lantian Man. However, many scholars advocate that this name should be dedicated to the Homo erectus fossil from Gongwangling, while the other Homo erectus fossil from Chenjiawo is called Chenjiawoensis (Homo erectus chenchiawoensis). She is the oldest Homo erectus found in northern Asia. “Homo erectus” refers to a human who could walk upright and make stone tools.

The term “Lantian Man” used to refer to the early Paleolithic fossils of Homo erectus found in Gongwangling and Chenjiawo in Lantian County, Shaanxi Province, China; however, many scholars advocate that this name should be exclusively applied to the fossils of Homo erectus in Gongwangling, while the fossils of Homo erectus in Chenjiawo should be called “Chenjiawo Man “. The geological age of the Gongwangling site is the early Middle Pleistocene, and the paleomagnetic dating data are about 1 million years ago and about 800,000 to 750,000 years ago; the geological age of the Chenjiawo site is also the Middle Pleistocene, and the paleomagnetic dating data are about 650,000 years ago and about 500,000 years ago. In Gongwangling, stone tools featuring trigonous large pointed tools have been excavated in the same layer as the human fossils, and the remains of fire have been found. The Gongwangling fossil is the oldest Homo erectus fossil ever found in northern Asia.

Basic features

The Lantian people are hundreds of thousands of years older than the Beijing people. Therefore they have a number of differences in physical form. For example, the appearance of Lantian Man is more ape-like, and his intelligence and limbs are less developed than those of Beijing Man. Archaeologists therefore classify the Lantian as “early Homo erectus” and the Beijing as “late Homo erectus”. They lived in the middle Pleistocene and Paleolithic periods. The early Lantian people were the earliest inhabitants of Xi’an.


In 2005, when Huang Wanbo, a paleoanthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered the Wushan Man at the Longbone Slope of Three Gorges, he also discovered the Lantian Man. Therefore, although the Lantian Man was found in Lantian, Shaanxi, its homeland was probably south of the Qinling Mountains. This is because the geological formation in the area of Lantian is loess, which is not at all suitable for primitive human habitation. The climate of China is glacially spaced glaciers, and the Lantian people migrated from the Three Gorges area after the climate warmed at some point.

Overview of fossils

The fossil skull from Gongwangling includes a complete frontal bone, most of the parietal bone, the right temporal bone and maxilla (with attached second and third molars), the left maxillary hem and frontal eminence, most of the left nasal bone and the nasal root of the right nasal bone, and one left upper second molar, all belonging to a female individual in her 30s. The original researchers named it Homo (Sinanthropus) erectuslantianensis – “Homo erectus lantianensis subspecies”, also commonly known as “Lantian man “The skull has many distinctive features. The skull of Homo lantianensis has many obvious primitive traits. The brow crest is large and thick, forming almost a straight transverse crest above the orbit, with the ends of the two sides clearly extending outward. The area between the brow crest and the frontal scales is clearly narrowed. The frontal bone is very low and flat. The wall of the cranial muscles is extremely thick, and the thickness of all parts of the skull of Lantian Man is basically at the upper limit of their range of variation compared with that of Peking Man and Javanese Man, and some of them even exceed the maximum value.


Recovery of fossil skulls with distributional features

For example, the thickness near the anterior chimney point of the parietal bone averages 7-9.9 mm for the six cephalic muscles of Peking Man, about 5.5-10 mm for the four skulls of Java Man, and 16 mm for Lantian Man. The height of the skull of Lantian Man is one of the lowest of all Homo erectus. The brain volume of Lantian Man is estimated to be about 780 ml; compared to 775-990 ml for Javanese; and 850-1300 ml for Pekinese. Lantian is older than both Javanese and Pekinese, and is only comparable to Homoerectusmodjokertensis from Java. The lower jaw of Chenjiawo belongs to an older female, and its morphology is generally consistent with that of the Pekingese, but not identical. The original researchers grouped this mandible together with the skull from Gongwangling and called it Lantian Man. However, many scholars believe that the degree of primitive traits shown by these two specimens are obviously different, and that the two sites are sequential in age, suggesting that a new species of Homolantianensis – “Lantian Man” – should be created for the skull from Gongwangling; and a new species of Homolantianensis – “Lantian Man” – should be created for Chenjiawo mandible with the scientific name of Homoerectuschenchiawoensis – “Homo erectus Chenjiawo subspecies”, which can also be commonly known as “Chenjiawo people” (“Chenchiawo people”). “Chenchiawoman”).

The fossil layers of Lantian Man were found to contain stone tools such as large pointed tools, slashers, scrapers and stone balls. The processing method is a simple hammering method, and the stone pieces are generally put into use without a second step of processing.

Distribution characteristics

In 2005, when Huang Wanbo, a paleoanthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered the Wushan Man at the Longbone Slope in Three Gorges, he also discovered the Lantian Man. Therefore, although the Lantian Man was found in Lantian, Shaanxi, its homeland was probably south of the Qinling Mountains.

Natural Habitat

Age of life

They lived about 1 million to 500,000 years ago. At that time, the area where the Lantian people lived was lush with grasses and trees, inhabited by many kinds of ancient animals, including vegetarian animals such as giant pandas, Oriental saber-toothed elephants, Ge’s spotted deer, and even fierce saber-toothed tigers. The Lantian people used simple and crude methods to beat stone tools, including large pointed tools, slashing and smashing tools, scraping tools and stone balls, to struggle for survival in their natural environment. They hunted wild animals and collected fruits, seeds and tubers for food.


Fossilized skull of Lantian man

Natural Environment

Gongwangling is the highest level of terraces on the left bank of the Ba River. On top of an ancient giant gravel layer, a brownish-red sandy clay about 30 meters thick, or what geology calls “red soil” or “clay loess”, was piled up and human fossils were buried in it.

Chenjiawo is located on the right bank of the Ba River, and the fossils were also found in the red soil layer of the highest terrace. The “red soil” is a Middle Pleistocene accumulation in northern China. In the red soil of Gongwangling, 42 species of mammal fossils were found, including not only more common species of the Middle Pleistocene of North China, such as Chinese onyx, Li’s wild boar, Sanmen horse and Ge’s plum deer, but also a few remnant species of the Tertiary and typical species of the early Quaternary, such as Lantian saber-toothed tiger, Chinese naiad clawed beast, newer cheetah and short-horned bull.

This indicates that the human fossils from Gongwangling are older than Peking Man and belong to the early Middle Pleistocene, which is equivalent to the Chertis Formation in Java, Indonesia, where the fossils of Roughjian Homo erectus were found, or the Gonds-Minde interglacial of the Alpine Ice Age series. A total of 14 species of mammal fossils have been found in Chenjiawo, and it is mostly found in Gongwangling, but there are also animals from the Late Pleistocene. Many scholars believe that the age of Chenjiawo is later than that of Gongwangling and roughly comparable to that of Peking Man; others believe it may be the same as Gongwangling. Dating data by paleomagnetic methods indicate that the Gongwangling locality predates the Chenjiawo locality.

The most striking aspect of the Gongwangling fauna is its strong southern coloration. For example, the giant panda, the Oriental saber-toothed elephant, the giant tapir of southern China, the Chinese tapir, the hairy crowned deer, and the Qinling Sumen antelope are all major members of the Pleistocene fauna of southern China and South Asia. The presence of so many southern forest animals in the Gongwangling fauna indicates, on the one hand, that the climate around Lantian was warm and humid at that time, with lush forests; on the other hand, it also indicates that the Qinling Mountains were not as high as they are today, and had not yet risen as a geographical barrier to the migration of animals from north to south. Unlike Gongwangling, Chenjiawo lacks mammals with strong southern coloration. The mollusks are also basically the same species that live in northern China in modern times. Some scholars have argued that the fact that the fauna is so different between the two sites, which are only 22 km away in a straight line, also reflects the inconsistency of the time period.

Cultural relics

The fossil mandibles were found in the Middle Pleistocene strata at Lantian, of which only 13 were recovered from the Gongwangling fossil-bearing layer and slightly later layers, and others from about 20 nearby sites with comparable layers. These stone artifacts themselves do not differ greatly in technology, and with the lack of materials available today, they are generally considered to be cultural relics of the Lantian people for the time being. The Bluefields stone artifacts are packed with hacking and scraping tools, large pointed tools and stone balls, and some stone cores and flakes. Most of them are made of quartzite gravels and vein quartz fragments, which are relatively rough. The most famous stone tools are the large pointed tools, which are triangular in cross section, also known as “three-pronged large pointed tools”. In addition to Lantian, this type of stone tool was also found at Dingcun, Hehe, Xihoudu, and Sanmenxia. All of these sites are located in the Fenwei Graben and its adjacent areas, suggesting that large pointed tools were an important element of the Paleolithic culture in this region. Only one stone ball was found in Lantian, and it was crudely made, comparable to those found in Dingcun, Hehe, and Sanmenxia. There is nothing distinctive about the scrapers of the hacking tools from Lantian, and the production method and types are similar to those from other Early Paleolithic sites in northern China. Three or four other ashes and ash fragments were found in the fossil-bearing layers of Gongwangling, all scattered over a small area, which the original researchers believe are likely to be the remains of fire used by the Lantian people.

Academic view

Huang Wanbo, a researcher, is not only the discoverer of “Wushan Man”, but also the discoverer of “Lantian Man”, who joined the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1954 after graduating from Northeastern University of Geosciences and devoted himself to paleontological research. He said that although the “Lantian Man” (1.1-1.15 million years ago) was found in Lantian, Shaanxi, its hometown was not in Xi’an, but south of the Qinling Mountains. This is because the geological structure there is loess, which is not at all suitable for primitive human habitation. The climate in China is glacially spaced glaciers, and the Lantian people migrated from the Three Gorges area after the climate warmed up at some point. Because in the excavation work, they found all the southern animal populations, there are dozens of species such as panda.

According to researcher Huang Wanbo, the “Wushan people” and the surrounding “Jiansi people”, “Guandu people”, “Hailiang people “They reflect the inheritance of human activities and the complete evolutionary process. In addition to the discovery of fossilized human jaws from 2 million years ago, fossilized bones of more than 100 kinds of animals and traces of human life in several eras have been excavated at Longbone Slope. He had gone to the East African Rift Valley for half a month to examine the area. He believes that the East African Rift Valley is the cradle of human beings, and one of them, after migrating to the present-day Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River, has been reproducing to this day and is our ancestor.

Huang Wanbo has put forward academic ideas such as “The Great Three Gorges of the Yangtze River Basin – the cradle of human evolution”. He said that the so-called “Great Three Gorges” refers to the Yangtze River basin, including the area radiated by the tributaries of the Yangtze River. After 21 years of archaeological work, it has been confirmed that a large number of ancient human sites have been found in the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, which has become the most densely distributed and continuous area of ancient human fossils in China. 2 million years ago, there have been traces of human activities in the Three Gorges area, and the “Great Three Gorges” of the Yangtze River is the homeland of ancient humans in China.

Cultural Features

The Lantian people were discovered in 1963 and 1964 in Chenjiawo and Gongwangling in Lantian County, Shaanxi Province. Gongwangling, 17 kilometers southeast of Lantian County, is a small earthen hill in front of the Ba River and behind the Qinling Mountains. When you climb up Gongwangling, you will find a gravel layer about 30 meters thick, covered with a “red soil” about 30 meters thick. The lower part of the red soil was sandwiched by two layers of buried soil, and a relatively complete human skull and three fossilized teeth, as well as stone tools and many animal fossils, were found between these two layers. In Chenjiawo, a relatively complete fossilized mandible was found.

Only thirty-four stone artifacts were found in the Lantian human locality. The raw materials are mainly quartzite and vein quartz, and there are stone cores, stone flakes and stone tools. The types of stone tools include large pointed tools, large multilateral hacking tools, small and medium-sized multilateral hacking tools and single-sided hacking machines, as well as scrapers and stone balls. The processing technology is rough, with single-sided processing and interactive processing. The shape of the tools is irregular and the utilization of raw materials is low, indicating that the stone tools were still somewhat primitive.

The animals that accompanied the Lantian people include the Sanmen horse, the giant panda, the zokor, the Li wild boar, the Ge spotted deer, the Chinese hyena, the Oriental saber-toothed elephant, the saber-toothed tiger, the Chinese hornet, the clawed beast, the Shomei monkey, and the free, etc., with obvious colors of the southern fauna. Judging from the fauna and the stratum where it is located, the age should belong to the early Middle Pleistocene. In 1959, a number of lithic sites were discovered during the survey, and in 1960, several of them were excavated, and a total of eleven sites were found.1 Wu Rukang, “Fossilized skulls of apes found in Lantian, Shaanxi Province,” Vertebrate and Paleoanthropology, No. 1, 1966. Dai Erjian and Xu Chunhua, “New materials of the Lantian paleolithic and the culture of the Lantian apes”, Journal of Archaeology, 1973, no. 2. One hundred and thirty-eight stone artifacts, as well as burnt bone and many mammalian fossils②. Except for locality 6055, which was found in the marl layer beneath the red soil, all the others were found in the gravel layer beneath the red upper. The former were rarely subjected to water abrasion, while the latter were mostly abraded to varying degrees.

Stone products of raw materials in addition to a very few for the vein quartz, the vast majority of quartzite gravel from the local river bank made, many products also retain the original gravel rock surface. The method of making the stone tools of the river is mainly hammering method and anvil method, but also smashing method, some use the plane of the original gravel for the table surface, some use the scar of the stone piece for the table surface. Most of the stone pieces are wide and short. Stone tool shapes are hacking ware, scraping ware, too three pronged pointed ware, small pointed ware and stone ball, etc., mostly processed from stone flakes, but also made of stone cores (such as stone ball, etc.). The smashers are single-edged and double-edged, while the scrapers are mostly single-sided, i.e., made from the back side of the splitting surface.

The animal fossils accompanying the stone tools include pied rhinoceros, three-toed horse, swollen-bone deer, spotted deer, saber-toothed elephant, Nama elephant, buffalo and wild boar, etc. Their age should belong to the early Middle Pleistocene, close to the age of the Lantian people.

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