Testing the New Hypotheses

Dragon Bone Hill and its hominids represent the starting point for many of the major paleoanthropological debates over the past 75 years. The site's discoveries have been at the center of the hypotheses on the origins of the use of fire, the beginnings of human language, the evolution of the brain, hunting, cannibalism, stone and bone tool use, and ancient human diet. The hominids themselves have occupied center stage for most of the time since their discovery, and paleoanthropologists have continued to place them squarely on the direct lineage of human evolution, that is, the lineage leading to Homo sapiens. This has been the case despite the fact that Homo erectus was endowed with some unusual and unhumanlike anatomical traits. We have attempted to piece together in this volume the anatomical, archaeological, geological, paleontological, and paleoecological evidence to present a series of new hypotheses about this intriguing species, particularly Chinese Homo erectus and its main site of discovery, Dragon Bone Hill. We believe that this new composite view fits the available evidence, but all hypotheses in science should be testable. This means that they must be falsifiable—that they can be proved wrong. In this chapter we propose a number of tests which can either disprove our hypotheses or further support them.

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