An uncanny resemblance
THE entire front page of The Review (South China Morning Post, September 2) was given over to an article by Andrew Marshall headlined, 'In search of the wild man'.
This article adds the 'Yeren' of Shennongjia National Park to a list of mythical animals (also including the 'Yeti' and the 'Bigfoot') which on the basis of no hard evidence whatsoever, are considered by a few to indicate survival to the present day of the extinct ape, Gigantopithecus.
The large front page picture, said to portray the bust of a 'Yeren' and taken from the window of Shennongjia's 'Wild Man Museum', displays an uncanny resemblance to the bust of Peking Man (Homo erectus) which was reconstructed from the circa 500,000 year-old fossils excavated at Zhoukoudian in the inter-war years. The resemblance is such that there can be no doubt that they are one and the same.
Thus Homo erectus appears to have taken on a new identity as a magnet for unwitting tourists, and the coins in their pockets. So much for the stuff of legend.
Incidentally Homo erectus and Gigantopithecus probably co-existed in East Asia between circa 1.5 million and 0.6 million years ago.
Based on available fossil evidence it would probably have been very easy to tell them apart (as with chimpanzees and man today).
Dr C.S. COCKRAM Sha Tin