The Liujiang skeleton, consisting of a well preserved cranium and limited
postcranial material, was discovered in a small cave at Tongtianyan in the
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 1958 by people collecting fertilizer (Wu
1959). Liujiang was initially described by Wu (1959), with Wu and Zhang (1985)
providing additional comparative anatomical information. TheAiluropoda-
Stegodon fauna found in association with Liujiang were interpreted as being
of Middle Pleistocene age but the contemporaneity of the fauna and human
skeletal remains have not been established. Wu (1959) did not support a Middle
Pleistocene age for the human skeletal materials arguing that the morphology of
the cranium suggested a more recent date. This is supported by morphological and
metrical comparison with other East Asian crania, for instance Minatogawa 1
(Suzuki, 1982; Wu, 1992; Hanihara, 1994). More recently a Uranium series date of
67,000 +6000-5000 was reported for Liujiang (Wu 1988, 1990, 1992) which would
make it the earliest example of modern Homo sapiens from the East Asian
region. However, the stratigraphic relationship of the dated stalactite layer
and the human skeletal materials can not be confirmed (Chen and Zhang 1991). At
present it must be said that the Liujiang skeleton remains undated.
By both modern and Neolithic standards Liujiang
has a long and low cranial vault, with an occipital bun, little obelionic
flattening and no sagittal keel. The facial skeleton is short but relatively
broad for its height. The superciliary ridges are moderately developed, with
some depression of the root of the nose and low, rectangular orbits. Facial
prognathism is greater than the average amongst modern and late Neolithic Chinese but is
similar to the early Neolithic male average. The
mastoid processes are extremely small, and along with the pelvic morphology
makes me uncertain as to the male sex of Liujiang (Brown In Press). Both teeth
and palate are moderate in size, with congenitally absent third molars, a small
odontome in the center of the palate and a shovel shaped right lateral
There is nothing particularly East Asian about the facial skeleton of
Liujiang. While the nasal bones are flattened, the nasal aperture is not very
tall and the antero-lateral surfaces of the malars are not rotated forwards like
in Chinese Neolithic and
modern facial skeletons. Low, rectangular orbits are common in the Late
Pleistocene and early Holocene throughout the world and this should be
disregarded when determining East Asian affinity. Unlike Upper Cave 101
only limited statistical comparisons have been conducted with Liujiang. Both
Suzuki (1982) and Wu (1992) place Liujiang closer to Minatogawa 1 than
101, with the former study also distinguishing Liujiang from modern East
Brown, P. 1998. The first Mongoloids: another look at Upper Cave 101,
Liujiang and Minatogawa 1. Acta Anthropologica Sinica 17 (4):255-275.
Brown, P. In Press. Modern human origins in East Asia: a view from the late
Pleistocene and Neolithic
of China and Japan. In K.
Omoto (ed.), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Origins of the
Japanese, pp. International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto.
Chen, T. and Zhang, Y. 1991. Palaeolithic chronology and possible coexistance
of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens in China. World
Hanihara, T. 1994. Craniofacial continuity and discontinuity of Far
Easterners in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. Journal of Human
Evolution 27: 417-441.
Suzuki, H. 1982. Skulls of the Minatogawa Man. In H. Suzuki and K. Hanihara,
The Minatogawa Man, pp. 7-49. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.
Wu, R. 1959. Human fossils found in Liukiang, Kwangsi, China. Gu Jizhuidongwu yu
Gu Renlei 1:97-104.
Wu, X. 1988. The relationship between Upper Palaeolithic human fossils of China and Japan. Acta
Anthropologica Sinica 7:235-238.
Wu, X. 1990. The evolution of humankind in China. Acta
Anthropologica Sinica 9:312-322.
Wu, X. 1992. The origin and dispersal of anatomically modern humans in East
and Southeast Asia. In T. Akazawa, K. Aoki and T. Kimura (eds) The evolution
and dispersal of modern humans in Asia, 373-378. Hokusen-sha, Tokyo.
Wu, X. and Zhang, Z. 1985. Homo sapiens remains from Late Palaeolithic and Neolithic China. In R. Wu and J. W.
Olsen, Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology in the People's
Republic of China,
pp. 107-133. Academic Press, London.
Wu, X.-Z. 1992. The origin and dispersal of anatomically modern humans in
East and Southeast Asia. In T. Akazawa, K. Aoki and T. Kimura (eds.), The
evolution and dispersal of modern humans in Asia, pp. 373-378. Hokusen-sha,
Table 1. Comparative dimensions of Upper Cave 101, Liujiang and Minatogawa
||Upper Cave 101
|max. cranial breadth