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ESR, U-series and paleomagnetic dating of Gigantopithecus fauna from Chuifeng Cave, Guangxi, southern China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Qingfeng Shao*
College of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
Wei Wang
Guangxi Museum of Nationalities, Nanning 530028, China
Chenglong Deng
State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
Pierre Voinchet
Department of Prehistory, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7194 CNRS, Paris 75005, France
Min Lin
National Key Laboratory of Metrology and Calibration Technology, China Institute of Atomic Energy, Beijing 102413, China
Antoine Zazzo
CNRS-Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7209, Paris 75013, France
Eric Douville
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CNRS-CEA-UVSQ, Gif/Yvette cedex 91198, France
Jean-Michel Dolo
CEA, I2BM, Orsay Cedex 91401, France
Christophe Falguères
Department of Prehistory, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7194 CNRS, Paris 75005, France
Jean-Jacques Bahain
Department of Prehistory, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7194 CNRS, Paris 75005, France
*Corresponding author.E-mail (Q. Shao).


Several Gigantopithecus faunas associated with taxonomically undetermined hominoid fossils and/or stone artifacts are known from southern China. These faunas are particularly important for the study of the evolution of humans and other mammals in Asia. However, the geochronology of the Gigantopithecus faunas remains uncertain. In order to solve this problem, a program of geochronological studies of Gigantopithecus faunas in Guangxi Province was recently initiated. Chuifeng Cave is the first studied site, which yielded 92 Gigantopithecus blacki teeth associated with numerous other mammalian fossils. We carried out combined ESR/U-series dating of fossil teeth and sediment paleomagnetic studies. Our ESR results suggest that the lower layers at this cave can be dated to 1.92 ± 0.14 Ma and the upper layers can be dated to older than 1.38 ± 0.17 Ma. Correlation of the recognized magnetozones to the geomagnetic polarity timescale was achieved by combining magnetostratigraphic, biostratigraphic and ESR data. The combined chronologies establish an Olduvai subchron (1.945–1.778 Ma) for the lowermost Chuifeng Cave sediments. We also analyzed the enamel δ13C values of the Gigantopithecus faunas. Our results show that southern China was dominated by C3 plants during the early Pleistocene and that the Gigantopithecus faunas lived in a woodland-forest ecosystem.

University of Washington

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