New Peking Man report

The South African Journal of Science has a new article by Lee Berger, Wu Liu and Wu Xiujie Berger:ZKD:2012, reporting on the mystery of the “Peking Man” fossils. The remains from Zhoukoudian, China, were lost at the outset of the Second World War. There have been endless speculations about the ultimate fate of the fossils, from being lost at sea in a Japanese raid to being secreted away by rogue anthropologists.

Two years ago, Berger and colleagues received a report from the son of a former marine, Richard Bowen:

My father was a Marine in China after WWII and he thinks he discovered bones of the missing Peking Man at a Marine base in China in 1947. He knows where these are buried there having dug them up and reburied them while under siege in Chinwangtao. I showed him the site from Google earth and it appears untouched. They may still be there buried in the boxes

That’s where the story begins. The paper is open access and interesting to read the history. Berger and colleagues didn’t locate the remains but took care to investigate the former area. They report that the remains were probably destroyed but hold out a “glimmer of hope” that impending construction at the location may yet turn up the bones that Richard Bowen reported seeing.