What's the Deal With "Peking man"?

years ago, I read that human bones were found in China, by an American archaeological team-sometime in the early 1920’s. these bones were belived to be those of the earliest humanoids in Asia. anyway, the bones were stored in a chinese Museum, and when the war broke out with Japan (in the early 1930’s), the bones mysteriously disappeared. There was a story that the US Embassy in China attempted to ship the bones to the USA, but the column of US marines who were guarding the shipment were ambushed by japanese troops-and the bones disappeared at that point. what’s the SD on this? :confused:

That pretty much sums it up, although it was a Chinese official that boxed the fossils for shipment to the US, not the US Embassy. Homo erectus fossils were discovered, cataloged, examined, then lost due to war. Subsequent excavations at the original site have uncovered further fossils that confirm the originals as H. erectus.

It’s been awhile since I heard the story, so I had to Google it. Here’s what Wiki has to say:

That’s pretty much it. H. e. sinensis is very similar in cranial capacity and apparent abilities to H. e. erectus, “Java Man,” but appears to have been a slightly younger and more advanced form. Other varieties of H. erectus have been found in Africa and, IIRC, the Middle East, more recently. FWIW, the reason for Sinanthropus pekinensis is that the 1890s-1930s in paleonathropology was noted for “splitters” – where every find ended up tagged with a full different binomial name, “just in case.” An hour’s study in comparative cranial anatomy would be enough to indicate to an unbiased layman that the Trinil and Zhoukoudian finds are the same genus, and probably the same species.

Older literature transliterates the site for the finds, Zhoukoudian, as Choukoutien (Wade-Giles system), sometimes with hyphens after the U’s. Though this is less accurate than the Pinyin translation in Wikipedia, it’s valuable as about 50 years of literature uses the older name.

After a few women filed restraining orders against him he was forced to register as a sex offender. Pervert.

The remains of Peking Duck are still available for viewing, however. :wink:

You may be thinking of the finds in Georgia (as in former Soviet Republic of) which date back to about 1.7M years ago. Homo erectus cites have been found in Africa, Europe, the M.E. and Asia. Of course, the splitters put those fossils in different species.

Some scientists like to call the African specimens H. ergaster, the (western) European specimens H. antecessor and ones in Georgia H. georgiensis.

Also, it’s H. erectus pekinensis, not sinensis.