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Titles: Peking man and modern Chinese Update time: Jan 22, 2013
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"Peking man" is a sub group of now extinct Homo erectus. Discovered in mid 1920's fossil and other archeological evidences of Peking man strongly indicated that it may be the "missing link" between modern humans and apes. "Peking man" is known to have used primitive stone tools and fires. There are two extreme versions of the evolution of modern humans (Homo sapiens) from Homo erectus. One proposes multiple origins for the modern humans. In this multiple-origin theory Home erectus the dominant human-like species that came out of Africa some 2 million years BP (before present) spread to all over the world and then evolved into the modern humans in almost every continent. The multi-origin theory includes a popular idea that the modern Chinese originated from Peking man. In the other theory all the modern humans originated in Africa about 200K years BP followed by a rapid spread to all other continents (starting at ~70K yr BP) wiping out other human-like species such as Home erectus (Peking man) and Neanderthals in the process. This theory is called "out of Africa" theory. All the genetic evidences so far have supported the "out of Africa" theory. In other words "Peking man" is most probably just an extinct species that did not evolve into the modern Chinese. Perhaps the final blow to the "Peking man into Chinese" theory came from a consortium of Chinese scientists who published a paper in PNAS in 1999 (Genetic relationship of populations in China. J. Y. Chu et al. PNAS. 95 (20) 11763–11768). They concluded:

In both phylogenies with different loci and populations populations from East Asia always derived from a single lineage indicating the single origin of those populations. It does not preclude the possibility of an independent origin of modern humans in East Asia but its contribution to the extant populations is not detectable in this analysis.
In other words DNA of all the East Asians traces back to a single origin in Africa. To the extent that you can't prove the negative the study doesn't disprove a possibility of human origin in Asia indepedent from Africa (e.g. Peking man as an ancestor for Asians) but they did not find any evidence to support such hypothesis. The idea of "Peking man as an ancestor for the modern Chinese" still persists however. The popularity of this idea probably has something to do with the ethnocentric nationalism but that's another story entirely. references: http://www.pnas.org/content/95/20/11763.long http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pithecanthropus_pekinensis http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/human-origins/the-history-of-human-evolution/peking-man [ Last edited by goemong at 23-1-2013 01:44 ]
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