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CHINA - Prehistory

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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2009, 04:13:58 pm »

So, it might be appropriate that the few human remains found in the cave so far turned out to be teeth as well. "We found another one this year," said Schepartz. "That's number five. This one was found at the deepest level of our excavations, and is probably closer to 300,000 years old."

Another surprise from the 2000 field season was the discovery of several antlers and tusk fragments. The team found both antlers that had been shed and antlers that were still attached to skulls. In later archaeological sites, antler and tusk are fashioned into tools or used to produce tools.

Many other specialists contribute to the Dadong studies. Sarah Stoutamire, an undergraduate student in anthropology at UC, spent her second field season at Dadong in 2000. She is doing a detailed analysis of the many Stegodon teeth found in the cave. Stoutamire hopes to find a pattern in the age of the teeth, information that could explain how the remains of such large animals got into the cave. Her work will help to understand whether the cave residents or large carnivores pursued older, large animals, or if smaller and younger animals were the preferred prey.

Schepartz noted that none of the excavations would have been possible without close collaboration and support from the Chinese government, which even built a lab near the cave for the researchers to use. Local families also help with the excavations.

She is also grateful for the wide-ranging support the team members have received from scientists in other disciplines. Researchers working under Jack Rink at McMaster University in Canada are using electron spin resonance to date the dental remains more precisely. Ruth Shahach-Gross of the Weizman Institute verified the difference in chemistry between burnt and unburnt bone. Lousiana State University Professor Brooks Ellwood is analyzing magnetic differences in sediment samples Schepartz and Stoutamire collected. He is looking for evidence of climate change over time.

"We have people from all over the world working on the project," said Schepartz. "To run a project like this, you have to bring in people in all kinds of disciplines. I'm fortunate that I've found people who have an interest in archaeological science."

The conference summarizing the various research findings is an outgrowth of three years of Panxian Dadong research supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. It is also receiving support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the East-West Center.


Adapted from materials provided by University Of Cincinnati.
Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

 MLA University Of Cincinnati (2001, March 14). Tale Of The Teeth: Archaeologists Find Unusual Bone Collection In Chinese Cave. ScienceDaily.

Retrieved October 26, 2008, from /releases/2001/03/010313073727.htm
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