Chenjiawo is the most complete of the two Chinese Homo erectus mandibles, the other being the 1959 Zhoukoudian mandible. The Chenjiawo mandible was found in 1963, near Yehu, ten kilometres northwest of Lantian city in Shaanxi Province. The mandible was described by Woo (1964a; 1964b) and is frequently linked with the Gongwangling cranium, also found in Lantian County, as Lantian Man. The two fossils, however, are not associated and the mandible is probably from a female H. erectus while the cranium appears to be male. Chenjiawo is also discussed in detail in Wu and Poirier (1995), in their standard detailed and comprehensive manner. Palaeomagnetic dating of the site suggests that the hominid remains date to around 650,000, or 500,000, years (Wu et al. 1989; An et al. 1990).

The Chenjiawo mandible has damage to both rami but the mandibular body and most of the teeth are preserved. The left canine, first and second premolar and first molar were lost postmortem. Moderately heavy tooth wear is a characteristic of the remaining teeth suggesting a middle aged adult (30-35 years). Both third molars are congenitally absent. The mandibular body is nether particularly high or strongly reinforced. The symphysial region is receding with a small mental trigone. On the posterior surface of the symphysis there is a weal transverse torus, with a slight inferior torus below it. There is no mandibular torus, the mylohyoid line is distinct and the subalveolar fossae reasonably well developed. A slight eversion of the gonial region is suggested by what is preserved of the right ramus. The lateral prominence is poorly developed and the mandibular body not particularly thickened.

Recent research and media coverage

No recent research but Chenjiawo relevant to the interpretation of the new hominin half mandible, found at Penghu near Taiwan, as are the hominin mandibles from Hexian, Zhoukoudian and Xujiayao.

Penghu mandible


Cheng, C-H. et al., 2014. The first archaic Homo from Taiwan. Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6037 doi:10.1038/ncomms7037

Access to Chenjiawo

Chenjiawo is housed in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, China. Research workers interested in access to Chenjiawo should write to Professor Wu Xinzhi, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica, PO Box 164, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.


An Z, Gao W, Zhu Y, Kan X, Wang J, Sun J, and Wei M (1990)
Magnetostratigraphic dates of Lantian Homo erectus. Acta Anthropologica Sinica 9:1-7.

Woo J (1964a) Mandible of Sinanthropus lantianensis. Current Anthropology 5:98-102.

Woo J (1964b) Mandible of the Sinanthropus-type discovered at Lantian, Shensi. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 1:1-12.

Wu R, Wu X, and Zhang S, eds. (1989) Early humankind in China. Beijing: Science Press.

Wu X, and Poirier FE (1995) Human evolution in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.