China finds new evidence for use of fire by 'Peking Man'

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New evidence has been found in an archeological site in Beijing suggesting that the ancestor of modern man was able to use fire more than 600,000 years ago.

The findings were announced Friday, after archeologists spent three years excavating the Zhoukoudian fossil site in the western suburbs of Beijing.

According to Gao Xing, research fellow with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a fire site, sintering soil, and burned rocks and bones were uncovered at the site.

"Some of the animal bones were entirely carbonized, turned black both outside and inside," Gao said. "It is safe for us to conclude that this is the result of burning."

They also found fire sites encircled by rocks and lime resulting from the burning of limestone, Gao added.

Fossils of Peking Man were discovered in the 1920s, including an entire cranium that earned Zhoukoudian fame as one of the birth places of humans.

Ashes, burned bones and rocks, as well as charred seeds were also found in 1929, according to Gao, leading many archeologists to agree that Peking Man knew how to use fire.

However, there has always been skepticism that they resulted from natural fire.

"The evidence this time is more convincing," Gao said. "It has been found under the earth untouched, without weather damage."

"This shows us that Peking Man could not only keep kindling, but knew how to control fire," he said.

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