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Penghu 1 - The First Archaic Homo from Taiwan
Beside the Sunshine Pathway
February 20 - April 12, 2015

To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.

Penghu 1 is a fossil jaw belonging to an extinct hominin species of the genus Homo from Taiwan. The fossilized human jawbone was dredged up off the coast of Penghu Channel before 2008 by a Taiwanese fisherman, sold to a local antique shop, purchased by Mr.Tsai Kun-yu who donated it to the Museum. With instinct, Dr. Chang Chun-hsiang, the Head of the Museum's Geology Department, recognized its importance. He spent four years on recovering and describing it with assistance from local, Japanese and Australian researchers. In January of 2015, Chang's paper 'The first archaic Homo from Taiwan' was published in Nature Communications and his finding was reported as the first known prehistoric human from Taiwan. It can represent a new human species or a regional group of "Upright Man" and help fill a geographical gap in the Asian fossil record and highlight the diversity of ancient humans living in this region during the Pleistocene era, according to Nature Communications.

Penghu 1 - The First Archaic Homo from Taiwan
Penghu 1
The fossil consisting of a nearly complete right lower jaw and four big worn teeth could be 200,000 years old and suggests a fourth type of ancient human who have lived in Asia long before Homo sapiens ever came to be. The three other known archaic Asian hominids include Homo erectus found in Java and China, the shorter Homo floresiensis from Indonesia, and Neanderthals in the Russian Altai mountains.

"Human jaws and teeth became smaller as they evolved. But unlike other fossils of the time, this jawbone is thick with large molars. It is obvious that Penghu 1 belongs to a different group," says Chang, "Penghu 1 is the first archaic fossil from our genus Homo has been discovered in Taiwan," he adds, "It may represent an entirely new species that lived as recently as 450,000 to 190,000 years ago, and strengthens the growing body of evidence that there were multiple evolutionary lineages in eastern Asia before anatomically modern humans arrived in the area."

"The available evidence at least does not exclude the possibility that they survived until the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, and it is tempting to speculate about their possible contact," says co-author Dr. Yousuke Kaifu, who is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Tokyo.

Penghu 1 is a national treasure in Taiwan and has been well preserved at the Museum with high security. Now it is on display along with fossils of Bubalus teilhardi, Palaeoloxodon huaihoensis, Crocuta crocuta ultima, Elaphurus davidianus, and Cervus axis from the Penghu Channel at the Museum's Sunshine Pathway. The exhibition will officially open February 20 and run seven weeks to its close on April 12.

Palaeoloxodon huaihoensis

Elaphurus davidianus, Cervus axis

Bubalus teilhardi

  • Admission is free.

Penghu 1 - The First Archaic Homo from Taiwan is organized and presented by the National Museum of Natural Science.