A human skull fossil dating back 32,000 years was found in a cave site in central China's Henan Province, local archaeological authorities said Monday.
The cave site is located in Guanyinsi Township, Lushan County. Earlier paleolithic archaeological research in the area has uncovered human fossils, animal fossils and stone tools.
"There are two caves in the site, with one standing 9 meters in length, 3 meters in width and 3.9 meters in height, covering an area of 30 square meters," said Zhao Qingpo, an archaeologist, adding that the cave is much larger than previous caves discovered in the region.
Apart from teeth and skull fossils, archaeologists also found more than 10,000 bone fragments of horses, goats, bears, deer, boars and wolves, which are about 30,000 to 40,000 years old.
Stone implements including stone chips and scrapers were also unearthed from the site.
Anthropologists said that two human skull fossils found in the cave site were identified as being 32,000 and 12,000 years old respectively through the uranium-series dating method. The former artifact is the earliest known fossil of early modern humans in the province.
"The new findings are of great significance for the study of the origin and development of modern humans in China," said Liu Haiwang, president of the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.