Fossil Skull Fragment of “ Tso-chen Man”
Tsai-liao River, Tso-chen, Tainan , 7.8cm × 8cm , Late Pleistocene 25000 B.P.
The Tso-chen Man is the earliest Paleolithic human fossils finding in Taiwan, dating back to about 25,000 years ago, categorized as Homo sapiens sapiens of the late Pleistocene, being the same species as modern humans. It was named after its excavation site in the Tsai-liao River basin of Tso-chen, Tainan county. In addition to skull and teeth fossils, abundant animal fossils of the early South China region were also found in this area. It is concluded that during the glacial period of Pleistocene, Taiwan had been connected with mainland China by land, so animal groups migrated from South China to Taiwan and the Paleolithic humans also followed, initiating the prehistoric culture of the Paleolithic Period in Taiwan.
The finding of Tso-chen Man was rather accidental. In 1971, geologist Lin Chao-chi, archaeologist Wen-hsun Song and Director Yan Liu of Taiwan Provincial Museum went to Tainan to identify the rhino fossils newly discovered along Tsai-liao River and conduct excavation. Meanwhile, they visited a private collector and found the first piece of human skull fossil among his collection of animal fossils. And afterwards, there had been records of subsequent findings of human skull and teeth fossils in the exposed riverbed of Tsai-liao River. Director Yan Liu, Mr. Ching-yang Lai, Prof. Wen-hsun Song and Prof. Chao-mei Lian from National Taiwan University had written essays about these fossils from paleontological, geological and archaeological perspectives, respectively. The Japanese scholars Tokio Shikama, Hiroyuki Otsuka and Hisao Baba had conducted a comprehensive study of physical anthropology on the skull fossils in form, anatomy and dating. These studies and related archaeological findings from the Paleolithic Period (e.g. Changbin Culture) had resulted in extensive international attention and also proved the Paleolithic human activity in Taiwan.