Science: Bones of Contention

Chinaside marines of the Old Corps had some strange responsibilities, but the colonel of the embassy guard in Peking suspected that chaperoning a collection of old bones was asking too much. Then Dr. Henry S. Houghton, director of Peking Union Medical College, explained what was in the boxes: the yellowed fossils were more than 500,000 years old, the only known remains of Peking man.* It was a few days before Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and Chinese authorities were anxious to get the bones to the U.S. before they were seized by the Japanese.

The marines were none too sure that they...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!