Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (2): 358-374.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1951-3

• Special Issue: Climate Change and Its Regional Response • Previous Articles    

Evidence of Middle Pleistocene hominin migration in the Qinling Mountains (central China) from the Miaokou Paleolithic site

LIU Dengke1(), SUN Xuefeng1,*(), HU Xuzhi2, YI Liang3, GUO Xiaoqi1, WANG Yichao1, WANG Shejiang4,5, LU Huayu1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
    4. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, CAS, Beijing 100044, China
    5. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044, China
  • Received:2020-12-17 Accepted:2021-08-11 Online:2022-02-25 Published:2022-04-25
  • Contact: SUN Xuefeng;
  • About author:Liu Dengke, Master Candidate, specialized in physical geography. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China(19ZDA225);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41972185);The Project of Zhengzhou University(XKZDJC202006)


The Qinling Mountain Range (QMR) spans a large region in China and is an important area of hominin activities. Many Paleolithic sites are found in Bahe, South Luohe, and Hanjiang river valleys in the northern, eastern, and southern part of the range, respectively. The Danjiang River valley acts as a channel connecting these valleys and stretches from the north to the south of the QMR. The previous dating of the Paleolithic sites in the Danjiang valley mainly relied on geomorphologic comparison, stratigraphic correlation, fossil characteristics, and Paleolithic artifacts, indicating a lack of absolute data. In this study, we conducted a detailed geochronological investigation of the entire valley, and selected an ideal site—the Miaokou profile. Based on the identification of the loess-paleosol sequences, optically stimulated luminescence, and magnetostratigraphy, the Paleolithic artifacts of the Miaokou site located within the S5 and S6 layers of the profile belong to ~0.6-0.7 Ma. This suggests that the Paleolithic site is an old site in the Danjiang River valley, and this period also witnessed a rapid increase in the number of hominin sites during the Middle Pleistocene. Combining our results with previous reports across the QMR, we propose that the Danjiang River valley might have been a corridor for hominin migration, and is worthy of further investigation.

Key words: Danjiang River valley, Miaokou site, loess-paleosol sequence, magnetostratigraphy, hominin routeway