Zdansky Discovers Peking Man (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: The tooth found by Zdansky was the first evidence that Homo erectus had existed outside Java.
Summary of Event
The story of the discovery (and subsequent loss) of Peking man is one of the most engrossing in the history of anthropology. It began in 1899 when K. A. Haberer, physician to the German legation at Peking, found his movements seriously restricted by the violent Boxer Rebellion and wisely restricted his avocation of fossil hunting to urban drugstores. (It had long been traditional in China to grind up vertebrate mammalian fossils and use them for medicine.) Haberer’s soon-voluminous collection was then sent in several shipments to Munich, where his friend Max Schlosser described them in a monograph Die fossilen Säugethiere Chinas, 1903 (Fossil Primates of China, 1924). All the fossils in the collection were mammalian—no reptiles or birds—and one particularly distinctive tooth seemed to be either apelike or human. Eventually, it proved to be that of a prehistoric ape, but as a significant body of evidence from a hitherto little known locality the collection as a whole, and the enigmatic tooth especially, aroused interest throughout the West, in large part because Schlosser boldly predicted that some new form of prehistoric fossil would soon be found in China. Nothing further took place, however, until 1918, when Johan Gunnar Andersson turned to professional fossil...
(The entire section is 1795 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!