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Significance of Peiking Man

Peiking Man Site Index : Introduction | Discover Process | Localities | Significance
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In the history of palaeoanthropology, the discovery of Peking Man was not the first one of its kind; however, the discovery established a definite status of this kind in the human evolutionary history. In 1891-92, a Dutch scientist, Dubois (1858-1940), found a hominid fossil of an ancient man at Java, Indonesia. A skullcap, a broken mandible, three teeth, and a large femur were unearthed. In 1894, Dubois named the specimens Pithecanthropus erectus, that is, erected ape-man. Dubois took the specimens to Holland in 1895 and it was immediately known all over the world. Heated debate arose: one party claimed the fossil to be of human, although they are crude and robust, while Dubois and his followers argued that the fossil occupies the stage of transitional form between ape and man. Someone argued that the fossils were of extinct large long-armed ape, or orangutan. Others claimed the fossils are of an idiot or abnormal man.

As another representative of ape man, Peking Man came on stage under such historical background. However, the fate of findings concerning Peking Man appeared as irrefutable proof. Homo erectus is different from the ape in physical characters and cranial capacity. He was able to engage in creative behaviour, develop culture, control fire, and hunt big animals. The discovery of Peking Man enabled one to solve the long-lasting polemics that had continued since the discovery of Java man in the 19th century and proved that Homo erectus evolved from the ape. It has established the erect man stage which occupies the intermediate stage in human evolution. The discovery brought a sudden progress in the theory of human origin and evolution. Peking Man stands as an everlasting monument in the history of paleoanthropological research.

Until today, Peking Man holds as ever a realistic and scientific value. The Peking Man Site is representing the most comprehensively and systematically studied site of Homo erectus. The Peking Man Site also provides the more precise scientific data for the study of the evolution, behaviour, and paleoenvironment of Homo erectus than contemporary African and European sites.

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