Homo erectus

29 Jul 2010

At www.nature.com/news.2010/100728/full/news.2010.377.html there is a news report issued by Nature on attempts to date, both geologically and historically, a cache of Homo erectus fossils discovered in the 1930s, together with 25,000 vertebrate remains, in Java. Homo erectus in Indonesia potentially lived until the Late Pleistocene at the same time as Homo sapiens inhabited other parts of the world. An expedition back to the site has been made and the bone bed reopened and extended. It found some 800 fossils in the bone bed within a geological deposit with a dense bone collection that may have a catastrophic origin. Details of the geology have been passed to a geological faculty to explore and date but don't hold your breath, it is probable these remains are not Late Pleistocene but earlier. Modern Indonesians do not appear to resemble Homo erectus and a controversy was aroused in Australia when one researcher claimed the Aborigines were descendants of Homo erectus - he even made a TV programme about it. However, a date in the Pleistocene may emerge as the bones of water buffalo, deer, elephant, rhinoceros, panther, crocodiles and turtles were mixed up with those of Homo erectus - which suggests an open woodland environment unlike the tropical rainforest of modern Indonesia. We can only await what they make of it all.