An archaeologist with the Hubei Provincial Archaeology Research Institute said that the skeleton unearthed from a 4,000-year-old tomb in central China's Hubei Province belonged to a giant panda.
Wu Xianzhu said this proves that giant pandas were used as funerary objects in ancient China. The No. 77 tomb, in Guanzhuangping Ruins in Zigui County, is the only tomb with panda funerary objects that has been discovered in the world.
When the tomb was first excavated in 2001, the animal remains found were believed to be the bone of the lower jaw of a pig. But with further research, archaeologists decided that the bone belongs to a giant panda, Wu said.
Wu said, domestic animals such as pigs and dogs had been used as funerary objects since the early New Stone Age, dating back approximately 8,000 years. Burying giant pandas with the dead shows that ancient people had close contact with the creatures.
Panda bones had been unearthed from other ruins of the New Stone Age in the province, indicating that pandas were among the animals hunted by human beings at that time.