Friday, June 26, 2009

Zhoukoudian Site Being Re-excavated

The site of the original Zhoukoudian Homo erectus fossils discovered by Davidson Black and described in detail by Franz Weidenreich is being re-excavated due to possible collapse. The site ShowChina has the story (which loaded a tad funny Firefox). They write:
Paleoanthropologists will excavate 20 square meters along the western wall of Locality 1, said Gao Xing, deputy director and research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP), at a press conference here Wednesday.

Locality 1, where the first complete skull of "Peking Man" was found, used to be a 20-meter-wide, 140-meter-deep cave but the ceiling has collapsed.

The four-month excavation aims to protect the western wall fromthreats of collapse, he said. "We found a wide longitudinal crack from the top and rocks in the wall are loose. It could collapse in any moment. Once it collapses, it will cause serious damage to the relic deposit in the cave."

This section remained the most complete sequence of stratum settlement with rich relic deposits of great significance, he added.

Natural weathering caused the damage as the cave has long been exposed to air. But the excavations in the 1920s and 1930s did not properly protect the cave, Gao told Xinhua.

"Repair work cannot be done without a comprehensive excavation," he said.
This is excellent news and provides the opportunity to locate more Homo erectus remains within the cave. The lack of the original fossils is often seized on by creationists, who declare the remains a hoax because the originals cannot be found. This, despite the fact that Franz Weidenreich made excellent casts of the fossils and wrote up an extensive and detailed report on the remains.

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