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Wang Naihui, Xu Yang, Tang Zhuowei, He Cunding, Hu Xin, Cui Yinqiu and Douka Katerina 2023 Large-scale application of palaeoproteomics (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry; ZooMS) in two Palaeolithic faunal assemblages from ChinaProc. R. Soc. B.2902023112920231129
The application of Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) on Pleistocene sites in Europe and northern Asia has resulted in the discovery of important new hominin fossils and has expanded the range of identified fauna. However, no systematic, large-scale application of ZooMS on Palaeolithic sites in East Asia has been attempted thus far. Here, we analyse 866 morphologically non-diagnostic bones from Jinsitai Cave in northeast China and Yumidong Cave in South China, from archaeological horizons dating to 150–10 ka BP. Bones from both sites revealed a high degree of collagen preservation and potentially time-related deamidation patterns, despite being located in very distinct environmental settings. At Jinsitai, we identified 31 camel bones, five of which were radiocarbon dated to 37–20 ka BP. All dated specimens correspond to colder periods of Marine Isotope Stages 3 and 2. We regard the presence of camels at Jinsitai as evidence of wild camels being a megafauna taxon targeted, most likely by early modern humans, during their expansion across northeast Asia. This large-scale application of ZooMS in China highlights the potential of the method for furthering our knowledge of the palaeoanthropological and zooarchaeological records of East Asia.