GUIYANG -- A group of construction workers have accidentally stumbled upon a prehistoric man's cave underneath a Buddhist temple in southwest China's Guizhou Province, archaeologists said here Friday.
The stone structure, containing hundreds of mammal fossils and stone implements, was between 10,000 and 40,000 years old and presumably dated back either to the end of the Old Stone Age or the start of New Stone Age, said Cai Huiyang, a top archaeologist with the Guizhou Provincial Museum.
"We hired the workers to relocate one of the Buddha statues at a donor's suggestion last month," said Sheng Guo, abbot of Simingdong Temple in Xiuwen County, in the northern suburbs of the provincial capital Guiyang.
After they removed the statue, the workers found a hole about the size of a rice bowl, and caught a snake about 6 cm thick, he said. "When they dug deeper, they found the stone cave and the fossils."
After two weeks of research at the site, Cai and his colleagues concluded it was a prehistoric residence of human beings, similar to that of the Peking Man found in Beijing early last century.
Before this major discovery, Cai said archaeologists had found pieces of similar animal fossils and stone implements near the temple.
"We're conducting research to see whether the cave should be excavated further in search of human skeletons and other relics."
Guizhou is home to a number of heritage sites, including a prehistoric man's cave in Panxian County that contains fossils of mammals, birds, fishes and a human tooth.