Chinese archaeologists announced that they have discovered an almost complete human skull around 1 million years old from a dig site in China’s Hubei province.
The skull, excavated by a team of archaeologists from the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, is the most complete human skull that has been unearthed from that period in mainland Eurasia, according to South China Morning Post, citing a Wednesday report from Hubei Daily.
Archaeologists expect that this latest discovery – the third human skull found at the same site in Yun County – will help shed light on human evolution in East Asia by providing accurate information on the skull and human face from that period in history.
“The No 3 skull is similar to the first two in terms of burial environment, faunal remains and technical characteristics of stone products, so the three skulls should belong to the same age,” Lu Chengqiu, head of the excavation team and a researcher with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, told Hubei Daily.
Speaking to state-run network CCTV on Wednesday, Gao Xing, a team leader at the archaeological site, noted that archaeologists have excavated very few human fossils so far that date back over a million years.
“As in China and East Asia, the only ones over 1 million years old are Yuanmou Man, which dates back to 1.7 million years ago, and Lantian Man, which is around 1.6 million to 1.2 million years old,” Gao said.
The recently unearthed skull, named by archaeologists as “No. 3 Skull of Yunxian Man,” is believed to be from the Paleolithic period, also known as the Old Stone Age. The first two skulls were discovered in 1989 and 1990, with scientists estimating them to be between 800,000 and 1.1 million years old.
The excavation team has so far unearthed the frontal bone, orbit and other parts of the skull. They hope to locate the rest of it in November.
Archaeologists have also found animal fossils, such as those of large herbivores and some carnivores, as well as stone tools at the dig site. They believe that these tools were used for most likely used for hunting and cutting animals.
“The evidence suggests that Yunxian Man consumed many large herbivores,” Gao said.