Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Kunming, China

Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Kunming, China
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Wang X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Grohe C.,Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County | Su D.F.,Ohio University | White S.C.,University of California at Los Angeles | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology | Year: 2017

Otters (subfamily Lutrinae) are semi-aquatic predators in the family Mustelidae. Modern otters have a worldwide distribution but their fossil record is poor, often consisting of fragmentary jaws and teeth. Multiple lineages have developed bunodont dentitions with enlargements of molars, usually for cracking molluscs or other hard foods. Some lineages have evolved badger-like teeth and, as a result, were often confused with melines (Old World badger clade). Siamogale thailandica Ginsburg, Invagat, & Tassy, 1983 from the middle Miocene basin of Mae Moh in northern Thailand is one such species, whose fragmentary dental remains have thus far impeded our understanding. A new species of fossil otter, Siamogale melilutra sp. nov., represented by a nearly complete cranium, mandible and partial skeletons of at least three individuals, was recovered from the latest Miocene (∼6.2 Ma) lignite beds of the Shuitangba Site in north-eastern Yunnan Province, south-western China. Computed tomography (CT) restoration of the crushed skull reveals a combination of otter-like and badger-like cranial and dental characteristics. The new species belongs to the Lutrinae because of its possession of a large infraorbital canal and ventral expansion of the mastoid process, among other traits. A distally expanded M1, however, gives a badger-like appearance. In overall morphology the Shuitangba otter is closest to Siamogale thailandica. A previously described jaw (‘Lutra’ aonychoides) from the early Pliocene of the Yushe Basin in north China is also here referred to S. melilutra. No previous attempt has been made to provide a global phylogenetic framework for otters. We present the first combined morphological and molecular (nuclear and mitochondrial DNAs) character matrices of five extant (Pteronura, Lontra, Enhydra, Aonyx, Lutra) and eight extinct genera (Tyrrhenolutra, Paralutra, Paludolutra, Enhydritherium, Siamogale, Vishnuonyx, Sivaonyx, Enhydriodon) to better understand the evolution of bunodont otters. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses consistently recover an eastern Asian clade that includes forms from Shuitangba, Yushe and Mae Moh, all of which are referred to Siamogale. © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2017. All rights reserved.

Curnoe D.,University of New South Wales | Ji X.,Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology | Liu W.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Bao Z.,Mengzi Institute of Cultural Relics | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The number of Late Pleistocene hominin species and the timing of their extinction are issues receiving renewed attention following genomic evidence for interbreeding between the ancestors of some living humans and archaic taxa. Yet, major gaps in the fossil record and uncertainties surrounding the age of key fossils have meant that these questions remain poorly understood. Here we describe and compare a highly unusual femur from Late Pleistocene sediments at Maludong (Yunnan), Southwest China, recovered along with cranial remains that exhibit a mixture of anatomically modern human and archaic traits. Our studies show that the Maludong femur has affinities to archaic hominins, especially Lower Pleistocene femora. However, the scarcity of later Middle and Late Pleistocene archaic remains in East Asia makes an assessment of systematically relevant character states difficult, warranting caution in assigning the specimen to a species at this time. The Maludong fossil probably samples an archaic population that survived until around 14,000 years ago in the biogeographically complex region of Southwest China. © 2015 Curnoe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Wang S.-Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Wang S.-Q.,Chinese Academy of Sciences | Ji X.-P.,Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology | Jablonski N.G.,Pennsylvania State University | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Mammalian Evolution | Year: 2015

The origin of the Old World brevirostrine gomphotheriid taxon Sinomastodon has been debated intensively. The discovery of the oldest known Sinomastodon cranium, reported herein, supports its endemic origin and contradicts the prevalent theory of its North America origin. The new cranium was discovered from the Shuitangba locality, southwestern China, and is dated at about 6.5–6.0 Ma, corresponding to the latest Miocene. The new specimen shows distinct characters from the other species of Sinomastodon and was therefore named Sinomastodon praeintermedius, sp. nov. Newly discovered, isolated Sinomastodon-like teeth from the upper Miocene to the lower Pleistocene of southwestern China and Southeast Asia indicate a long evolution of Sinomastodon endemically. Remains of this species are frequently accompanied by those of stegodontid species. These two groups may have had a similar migration route, invading northern China and Japan during the latest Miocene, and retreating or becoming extinct from the Palearctic realm by the end of the Pliocene. The migrations of proboscideans may have been sparked by major paleoenviromental changes, i.e., the strengthened summer monsoon beginning in the late Miocene (~7–8 Ma) and global cooling due to the expansion of ice sheets from the middle Pliocene to the early Pleistocene. The new finding reveals a close relationship of the early Pliocene fauna of northern China and the latest Miocene fauna of southwestern China, and thus provides novel insight into the origin and components of Pliocene fauna in northern China. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York

Jin J.J.H.,POW Inc | Jablonski N.G.,Pennsylvania State University | Flynn L.J.,Harvard University | Chaplin G.,Pennsylvania State University | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

Investigations of the well-known paleontological and archaeological site of Tangzigou in western Yunnan Province in 2003 and 2006 yielded plentiful mammalian remains and a large number of stone and bone artifacts. Among the mammalian remains were those of many micromammals representing modern taxa of Scandentia, Insectivora, and Rodentia. The micromammal assemblage is dominated by rodents, which constitute 92% of the total number of identifiable elements. Murids are the most common elements, followed by rhizomyids, sciurids, and hystricids. The Tangzigou deposits appear to have been created over a period of 200-300 years in the early to middle Holocene, judging from the tight cluster of AMS radiocarbon dates between 9000 and 8745 BP. Based on the known habitat preferences of the living species, most of the Tangzigou micromammals were arboreal or dwellers of the forest floor. The micromammal assemblage thus indicates that subtropical forest including bamboo dominated the environment around Tangzigou. The assemblage is remarkable for the near absence of very small micromammal species such as small mice. This bias appears to have been introduced by humans who collected the larger-bodied species of micromammals for food. This interpretation is supported by the presence of a large number of burned elements, especially dentaries. The analysis of the larger mammals also showed that Tangzigou was a place where prehistoric people gathered to butcher the hunted/scavenged animals. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Ji X.,Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology | Ji X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Kuman K.,University of Witwatersrand | Clarke R.J.,University of Witwatersrand | And 7 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

The Hoabinhian is the most representative technocomplex in Southeast Asian prehistory for the later hunter-gatherer period. As a mainland technology based exclusively on seasonal tropical environments, this core-tool culture was previously defined in northern Vietnam in 1932 and characterized originally by its large, flat and long, largely unifacial cobble tools associated with tropical forest fauna. The recent discoveries and dates obtained at Xiaodong rockshelter in Yunnan Province (southwest China) allow us to discuss the origin and the homeland of this singular Asian technocomplex which spread to Southeast Asia during the end of the Late Upper Pleistocene. Here we present the first Chinese Hoabinhian lithic implements in their stratigraphic and chronological context within a rockshelter site, and we address the question of the dispersal of modern humans from South China to Southeast Asia. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Curnoe D.,University of New South Wales | Ji X.,Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology | Shaojin H.,Kunming Museum | Tacon P.S.C.,Griffith University | Li Y.,Chenggong Institute of Cultural Relics
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

We describe and compare two hominin teeth identified here as a RP1 (YV1361) and a LM2 (YV1362) recovered in 1977 from Late Pleistocene deposits at Longtanshan 1, a cave locality near Kunming, Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Placed within the broader context of known variation in Late Pleistocene hominins and recent humans from the region both teeth probably sample anatomically modern humans. They appear to exhibit simple crown morphology, possess narrow buccolingual diameters, YV1361 has a single (simple) root, YV1362 has two simple roots that bifurcate close to the crown, and the roots of both teeth are long but not especially robust compared to the size of their crowns. Previous dating research at Longtanshan 1 suggests both teeth have a minimum age of close to 60-83ka, but further research will be required to establish this more precisely. These findings combined with recent discoveries from other parts of China suggest that anatomically modern humans appeared in the region during Marine Isotope Stages 4 or 5. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Zhu H.,CAS Kunming Institute of Botany | Zhu H.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Huang Y.-J.,CAS Kunming Institute of Botany | Huang Y.-J.,Chinese Academy of Sciences | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Fossil seeds of Zanthoxylum L. (Rutaceae) were studied from three fossil floras in Yunnan Province, Southwest China, the late Miocene Shuitangba, late Pliocene Fudong, and early Pleistocene Nanbanbang. Based on seed morphological characters, the Shuitangba seeds were assigned to a new fossil species, Zanthoxylum trachyspermum sp. nov. H. Zhu et Z.K. Zhou, the Fudong seeds were determined only at the generic level, and the Nanbanbang seeds were designated to a modern species, Zanthoxylum avicennae (Lam.) DC. These three new fossil records, together with Z. tertiarium (Heer) Gregor et Hantke from the early to middle Miocene Mangdan flora and modern distributions of Zanthoxylum in Southwest China, imply that Zanthoxylum has continuously existed in this region at least since the early to middle Miocene. Quaternary glaciations have not caused the disappearance of Zanthoxylum from Southwest China, differing from the situation in Europe where the genus was well represented prior to the Pleistocene but became extinct thereafter. The severe post-Miocene environmental changes caused by the continuous uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and adjacent areas might have promoted the establishment of its modern high diversity in Southwest China through enlarging environmental heterogeneity. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

A newly discovered leg bone fossil suggests one of our ancient ancestors survived longer than previously believed, and may have even existed alongside modern humans into the Ice Age. Found in Red Deer Cave, southwest China, the partial femur is similar to those of some early human species commonly thought to have disappeared during the Late Pleistocene. Researchers argue, however, that a comparison between the discovered fossil and other ancient femurs, as well as those of modern humans, could challenge current notions of human evolution. Professor Ji Xueping from Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology says their discovery could represent a population of some ancient humans who survived much more recently than had been thought possible. Yet it isn't safe to arrive at a conclusion just yet, as the discovery only includes one bone, he adds. Although dated to just 14,000 years ago, the bone fragment shows similarities to those from species such as Homo habilis or Homo erectus, who first walked on the Earth more than 1.5 million years ago. Darren Curnoe, study co-author and associate professor at the University of New South Wales, says it has long been assumed that the last time more than just one species of human trod the Earth around 100,000 years ago. Hence, it is surprising to find a 14,000-year-old pre-modern human bone that is comparable to ancient, primitive human bones, he adds. "The new find hints at the possibility a pre-modern species may have overlapped in time with modern humans on mainland East Asia, but the case needs to be built up slowly with more bone discoveries," he explains. The partial femur from China shows a number of characteristics that link it to the most ancient members of the human evolutionary chain, the researchers explain; it is small, with a narrow shaft, and the outer layer of the shaft is very thin. Measurements and traits of the bone suggest a "clear association between the femur and the bones of the earliest members of the human genus Homo," Curnoe argues. Not all experts in the field agree, however. University of Toronto paleoanthropoligist David Begun, who was not involved in the study, says he is not convinced. "To me, it's just a Late Pleistocene, Early Holocene population that just looks a little bit different, that really doesn't have anything especially archaic about it," he says. "I certainly don't buy the argument that it is some kind of holdover from an Early Pleistocene, early Homo lineage, pre-Neanderthal or something like that." The researchers believe their discovery represents a mysterious pre-modern human species, or a possibility that the unique environment in southwest China may have resulted in the diversity of pre-modern species. However, they also believe more work needs to be done as the Red Deer Cave fossils still have many stories to uncover. The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

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