1000-year-old skull helps archaeologists explain the long-standing mystery

The skull has not been fully excavated from the ground yet, but the part that has been exposed so far, including the frontal bone, eye sockets and left cheekbone and temporal bone, indicate that the skull’s structure is intact,” China Daily reports.

“No obvious deformation has been found. It is in very good condition and features the typical characteristics of Homo erectus,” Gao said, referring to an extinct species of the human genus that is perhaps an ancestor of modern humans.

“Their buried environments are similar, and so are the varieties of other unearthed animal bones and lithic (stone) tools,” he said. “Preliminary studies showed that the No 3 skull should belong to the same period of time as the No 1 and No 2.”

If so, the finding could be the best-preserved skull fossil of Homo erectus from around 1 million years ago ever found in the hinterland of the Eurasian region, the researcher said.

However, Gao told China Daily, a rigid dating process is still underway. We’ll use different technical approaches, including geomagnetic, optical and cosmogenic nuclides dating methods,” Gao said. “It will take at least another half a year to make a scientific judgment. Dating will not only focus on the skull, but also spread across the whole site to get a more reliable reference.

“Thanks to more advanced technologies, I hope we can narrow the time span of our speculation this time,” he said.

Scientists can now rely on new technology that will help them with the dating process and other site research. A great advantage is 3D virtual imaging that can be used to reconstruct the environment in which Yunxian Man lived.

“Traditionally, archaeological fieldwork is irreversible, but thanks to new technology, we want to make part of our working process reversible by working in the digital world,” Gao said.

As reported by China Daily, “all sediments found in the working area will be taken to a lab for long-term studies that will also involve environmental sciences, geology, molecular biology, and other branches of natural science. “Our current findings have shown that human evolution in East Asia was continuous,” Gao said. “The links between Homo erectus and later Homo sapiens are still unclear, but this issue is a key to decoding the origins of modern human beings in East Asia. Indisputably, the skull fossil can provide crucial evidence.”

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