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Keywords:

  • Replacement Model;
  • Assimilation Model;
  • Regional Continuity Model;
  • Cladistic method;
  • Chronophenetic assessment

Abstract

Previously known and recently discovered hominid fossils in China exhibit a mosaic of regionally restricted and extra-regional morphological traits which evolve in the general direction of modern humans. Specifically East Asian features are concentrated in the midfacial region, while other craniofacial regions (upper face, lower face, occipital, and some basicranial features) show a gradual and general divergence in the direction of all extant human groups. Some extra-regional traits suddenly appear in the Middle and Late Pleistocene, suggesting a period of increased and intensified long range gene flow. Although difficult to define, Homo erectus exhibits a few autapomorphic and synapomorphic features (with Archaics and Neanderthals) which do not exclude it from human ancestry. The strict application of cladistic method and theory has supported the interpretation that Homo erectus was not ancestral to modern humans. An alternative chronophenetic assessment of the fossil Asians does not support a Replacement Model, but instead supports a variant of the Regional Continuity Model, an Assimilation Model, as the most parsimonious means of understanding the origins of modern humans in China and other parts of the Old World. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.