|Yuanmou Man, Yunnan, China||Week 11 7th July 2011|
| We took a back road from Hei Jing to Yuanmou.
Cobble for about 20 km. Surprisingly good as there were no potholes or big bumps and very little traffic.
| We passed through a few villages.
Mostly mud brick with some newer buildings.
And very distinctively rural odours.
What a pity we only have photos with no sounds or smells.
|Through the middle of this village.|
| But then we met a bigger road.
Concrete this time to get us down the hillside.
One of the things we've found difficult to get used to is the lack of camber on corners.
It adds to our natural caution about corners which may always be sharper than we think.
| Yuanmou Man was discovered in 1951. This monument
celebrates the 30th anniversary.
As we understand it during railway excavations fossilised ape bones had been found and the site was investigated more thoroughly.
A couple of teeth of homo erectus were found and dated to 1.7 million years ago.
| The site that the teeth were found.
The find caused the "out of Africa" theory of human evolution to be questioned with the suggestion that parallel local evolution has occurred.
Some recent (around 2000) genetic work with the ethnic minorities in Yunnan suggested that "out of Africa" or at least a common ancestor was the answer. However, some even more recent work has swung the scientific pendulum a little towards parallel evolution.
|The site is on a hillside. Quite dry which probably helped with the preservation.|
| At first glance there is probably nothing unusual in this
Closer examination will hopefully reveal a few tree stumps.
"So what" one might ask.
In previous days we've noticed people collecting firewood and carrying it back to houses. We haven't seen any sawn or axed tree stumps.
Its been very noticeable that none of the firewood collected has been "tree sized". Mostly scraps off the ground or straight stakes about 25mm diameter and 1m long.
To put it in lofty sounding intellectual terms .... it seemed to us an amazing cultural discipline that makes the firewood supply sustainable despite high population pressure.
Harking back to the Hani Rice Terraces the forest was a dimension on a par with the terraces.
| The new Yuanmou Man Museum is in Yuanmou.
Unfortunately no photographs inside.
The descriptions are all in Chinese and translation was at times a bit difficult. We had a museum guide (free entry and free guide) as well as Susanna.
Scored some points when we were in front of a map of Africa and could nod wisely about Lucy then conjure up Louis Leakie and Olduvai Gorge from our memories.
And we also now know that there were rhinoceroses in China. Which helps explain why rhino horns figure in Chinese medicine.
The museum has mostly replicas of finds. But we were unable to tell the difference.
It seemed to politely leave the question of single or parallel evolution hanging. It is still unanswered by the scientific community. Obviously there is a Chinese desire to have parallel evolution proven.
There is absolutely no mention, not even a hint, of creationism. To our delight!
If one has to visit a museum it might as well be one like this.
| We drove on to the Earth Forest and took over a corner of
their car park for the night.
Did a bit of washing at the convenient tap. It was a warm evening and the washing dried in a couple of hours.
Probably time to mention that temperatures have been very variable. SE Asia was mid 30's (degrees C) with high humidity, 90%. Last night humidity about 30% and low 20's. Fine in the mountains. Once we get back down to river level the temperatures are higher. One afternoon of 38 degrees C but it cooled rapidly once the sun went down.
|Wumao Earth Forest, Yunnan, China||Week 11 7th July 2011|