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Dragon Bone Hill: An Ice-Age Saga of Homo erectus 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195152913
ISBN-10: 0195152913
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dragon Bone Hill is the name of the archeological site in China where Peking Man was found in the 1920s. Although all of the original Peking Man fossils were lost during the Japanese occupation of China, casts remain and have shown that Peking Man should be classified as Homo erectus, an early ancestor of humans. Ross University anatomist Boaz (Evolving Health) and University of Iowa anthropologist Ciochon (The Human Evolution Source Book) tell two entertaining tales as they explore many facets of the Homo erectus story. The first deals with the discovery of Peking Man and provides much insight into the politics of early paleoanthropology. As part of this story, the authors also attempt to resolve the oft-examined question of what happened to the original fossils. They don't present a great deal of new information and come to the same conclusion as many others (notably Nicole Mones in her novel Lost in Translation), suggesting that, after being discarded by Japanese troops, the fossils were ground up and turned into medicinal products by Chinese locals. Their second story addresses the evolutionary place of Peking Man and presents "hypotheses on the origins of the use of fire, the beginnings of human language, the evolution of the brain, hunting, cannibalism, stone and bone tool use and ancient human diet." They conclude that Homo erectus was primarily a scavenger incapable of speech who had learned to tame but not fully control fire. Accessible to the general reader, this volume provides a nice overview of the subject. B&w illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Homo erectus, among the earliest discoveries of paleoanthropology, has been researched for a century. The entire corpus of knowledge about this human ancestor comes together in Boaz and Ciochon's presentation, which hinges on the most productive site for H. erectus specimens, Zhoukoudian, China. In a famous tragedy, a collection of them vanished in World War II, a mystery that the authors elucidate but are still stymied by; fortunately, much anatomical data about the fossils had been preserved in casts and scientific papers. Incorporating those into subsequent discoveries of H. erectus in Africa, and into modern understanding of the climates with which H. erectus coped, the authors deliver a meticulous, but not forbiddingly technical, survey of evidence from which scientists infer and debate the species' evolution. From areas where consensus reigns--that H. erectus was a head-banging, tool- and fire-using scavenger--Boaz and Ciochon proceed to the most disputatious ground in the field, arguments about whether H. erectus evolved in Africa or elsewhere. Methodically informative, this book best suits readers with a well-developed interest in human origins. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195152913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195152913
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,622,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on February 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This overview of old history regarding the worlds' most extensive fossil hominid site is great. The sequence of discovery, the loss of the fossils in WWII confusion, and the telling of the modern rethinking of the site and its significance is really very well done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good read, but a little gossipy in the beginning. Also, the Kindle edition was shoddily put together.

As to the subject: Homo Erectus and Dragon Bone Hill outside of Beijing...this was handled quite well.

However, it was an exceptionally dry read.

You've been warned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since we were going to Beijing, we decided to go to Choukoutien (Zhoukoudian) to see the fabled sight of the Peking Man. Our inn's driver didn't know how to get there, didn't know any other drivers who had been there, and wanted to know if we wouldn't really rather go to the Great Wall? We hashed things out and were soon on our way. If you go, get a car and driver; public transportation would take forever.
The site is well worth a visit. There are few visitors, but the site is well laid out with paths and informative signs in Chinese, English, and Japanese. (The restaurant, actually the staff's lunch room, even provided us with a delicious, filling su-vegetarian lunch.) At various spots are sculptures of contemporary wildlife, so lifelike that we were startled by the first, a pair of hyenas ready to pounce on you as you come up the path.
However, the statues of the Peking Man and Woman are almost six feet tall. The bust of the Peking Man in front of the museum has the face of a very refined, educated fellow, one you could share a pot of tea with as you discussed the fine points of Wang Yangming's philosophy or Gould's rendition of Bach. This is certainly not the face of a guy who spent his days in a life and death struggle with wild beasts.
After our visit, I recalled that Dragon Bone Hill got good reviews, and I know Ciochon is a good author, so I decided to get this book. I had already read a lot about the Peking Man, in English and in Chinese, so I was familiar with the situation already, but figured that this would give me a good update.
The book fulfilled my expectations. Averaging 156cm for the men, these early people probably spent most of their time scampering up trees to escape from hyenas or saber tooth tigers, and the devil take the hindmost!
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