Iconic ancient human fossils from China are 200,000 years older than had previously been thought, a study shows.
The new dating analysis suggests the “Peking Man” fossils, unearthed in the caves of Zhoukoudian are some 750,000 years old.
The discovery should help define a more accurate timeline for early humans arriving in North-East Asia.
A US-Chinese team of researchers has published its findings in the prestigious journal Nature.
The cave system of Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, is one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in the world.
Between 1921 and 1966, archaeologists working at the site unearthed tens of thousands of stone tools and hundreds of fragmentary remains from about 40 early humans.
Palaeontologists later assigned these members of the human lineage to the species Homo erectus.
The pre-war Peking Man fossils vanished in 1941 whilst being transported to the US for safekeeping. Luckily, the palaeontologist Franz Weidenreich had made casts for researchers to study.