Monday, January 19, 2015

Mystery of the Panxian Cave

Panxian Cave
The Paxian Dadong – Paleolithic Karst Cavern

The Panxian Dadong is a Paleolithic karst cavern which is in a small valley about 1630 m above sea level towards the western Guizhou Plateau, in Southern China. The name Dadong means Big Caves which could have been given to numerous caves in China. The Panxion Dadong reveals a complete deposit of the Middle Pleistocene period.

The Big Cave of Panxian is Panxian Dadon which is a palaeologic as well as archaeological site, is high up on the flank of the karst tower and the large entrance portal can be seen from a distance. The caves have almost 20m of sediments from the Middle Pleistocene together with numerous animal bones which dates back between 130,000 and 260,000 years old. Besides animal bones, five human teeth and stone artifacts were also discovered.

Humans were present at the cave about 300,000 years ago as well as gigantic animals and scientists are amazed as to how these animals could have reached a mountain cave which is located high above sea level. One of Asia’s earliest human inhabitants lived in Panxian cave which shows the evidence of large deposits of about 19 meters deep. Analysis on prehistoric deposits in the Panxian Dadong Cave portrays that animals like the elephanttype Stegodons as well as lumbering Rhinoceros existed there.

Panxian Cave 1
Credit:LIU Wu
Remains of Large Animals Discovered 

Large numbers of remains belonging to these large animals were discovered at the caves. On excavation, it revealed over 40 species of mammals, stone artefact, human teeth and animal teeth with over 30 percent of the huge animals’ remains constitute teeth and around two percent of the remains were of the skulls.

Most of the teeth belonged to the huge animals such as the buffalos, rhinoceros and Stegodons. The cave seems to be the central cavern of three stacked caves which extends towards a hillside where the central cave was 220 meters deep covering 8000 square meters.

Test excavations indicate that the humans utilised these caves for a long period of time and the uranium lead dating technique shows that the deposits are around 300,000 years old and could go back as far as 700,000 years ago. An expedition carried out some years ago to Guangxi province which is the neighbouring province of Guizhou, in Southeast Asia, showed that Gigantopithecus blackii, a large ape, around 10 feet tall, weighing about 1,200 pounds, lived at the same time as the early humans for over a million years which was the largest ever primate that lived there.

Panxian Cave 2
Credit:LIU Wu
Gigantopithecus Blackii – A Large Ape 

Giganthopithecusblackii is said to have died out 100,000 years ago during the period of the Pleistocene and based on the time range from 1,000,000 to 100,000 years, it is presumed that they coexisted with Homo erectus in the region of Asia. Some are of the belief that the large primate could have also roamed in certain areas of Thailand.

Some archaeological discoveries in Guangxi caves like fossils of humans as well as Gigantopithecus blackii also support this theory. The Panxian Dadong is one of the several caves in Tibet and China with thousands of other which are very old. There are numerous secret caves most of which have been created by people rather than through natural processes which have symbolic and sacred meaning.

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