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Search for missing Peking Man skulls continues
www.chinaview.cn 2005-07-06 20:37:24

    BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhuanet) -- "Mankind can give up many things, but there is one thing that we can never abandon -- that is our ancestors, "said Gao Xing, an expert of ancient vertebrates, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

    "The secret of the missing Peking Man skulls and other relics remains a trans-century secret that embodies creation and destruction,and civilization and barbarism," Gao said when talking about the resumption of the work to search for the Peking Man skulls and other relics that went missing during the World War II.

    A special committee for searching for the missing relics, led by local government and consisting of non-governmental organizations, was established in Beijing's Fangshan District, home to the Peking Man skulls, on Saturday.

    Nie Yuzao, secretary of the Fangshan District Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and Qi Hong, acting director of the Fangshan District government, will take charge of the Work Committee for Searching for Missing Peking Man Skulls.

    Experts and advisors for the committee include Wu Xinzhi, an academician with the CAS and a Paleoanthropologist, Zhou Guoxing,professor of anthropology and prehistorical archaeology and Jia Yuzhong, son and former secretary of Jia Lanpo, one of the finders of the Peking Man skulls.

    The first intact fossilized Peking Man skull was found by Chinese paleoanthropologist Pei Wenzhong at Zhoukoudian, 48 kilometers southwest to Beijing proper, on Dec. 2, 1929. It is dated as 400,000 to 500,000 years old.

    The skull fossil and other relics discovered at the site, such as stoneware and fire ashes, prove that homo erectus was living in the slopes of the Zhoukoudian site.

    After Pei, Jia Lanpo and others found another five intact fossilized skulls of Peking Man in the 1930s. In 1941, attempts were made to send the five skullcaps and other precious fossils tothe United States when the Japanese troops occupied Beijing after the "July 7 Lugou Bridge Incident" in 1937 which marked the comprehensive invasion of Japan against China.

    But the five intact skulls, together with 147 teeth, broken skulls, thighbone, lower jaw bone, collarbone, disappeared after leaving the Peking Union Medical College, which was holding the fossils at the time.

    After the end of the World War II, China, the United States andJapan all conducted a search for the missing Peking Man skulls andother relics, but to date, none of them have been found.

    The missing relics remained a great regret to Pei, finder of the first Peking Man skull, until the last minute of his life, GaoXing, the expert with the CAS told Xinhua.

    Gao said, there are many guesses about the whereabouts of the missing relics. Some say they were destroyed by Japanese invaders,some say the relics were transported to Japan, and some others saythe have been sent to the United States. Some think that the relics sunk into the sea.

    Calls and efforts for searching for the missing relics have continued in China since 1998, but with little progress being made. The newly-established committee, the first of its kind led by the government, is expected to push forward the work in this regard, said a source close to the committee.

    The Zhoukoudian Peking Man Ruins Management Office and the Zhoukoudian Palaeoanthropology Research Center under the CAS will be jointly responsible for seeking clues about the missing relics and searching for them. Enditem

    

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