The fossil was found in Zhaotong City's Shuitangba mine in a joint study carried out by the US and Chinese archaeologists.

“The fossil puts the history of the species back one million years,” said Wang Shiqi, a vertebrate evolution expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Archaeologists from CAS and Pennsylvania State University jointly conducted the study.

Previously, the earliest fossil of the Chinese mastodon had been found in North China's Shanxi Province. The latest discovery indicates the origin of the species may be in Yunnan and surrounding areas.

“An article about the discovery has been published in the November edition of The Journal of Mammalian Evolution,” a state-run news agency reported.

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