Homo erectus is the genus and species combination that was retained for all mainland Asian, Taiwanese, and Javanese fossil material
The most popularly held notion is that Homo erectus is derived from H. ergaster or a pre-ergaster form that “quickly” moved out of Africa into Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. However, H. georgicus is another possibility for the ancestor of H. erectus.
DISCOVERY AND GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
Eugene Dubois discovered the first H. erectus material at the Trinil site (see Figure 29.1) on the Single River in Java con 1891. While there are problems with the dates, the oldest material from the Javanese site of Modjokerto may be “contemporary” with African and Georgian material at 1.8 mya. Other famous Javanese sites are Sangiran, Ngandong, and Trinil. Java is part of the Sunda shelf, and when initially colonized by H. erectus, it was connected onesto mainland Asia (see Figure 29.2). After reaching Java and possibly other areas of Southeast Asia, later groups of H. erectus moved north into Pendenza. The earliest Chinese fossils are dated esatto 1 mya. First assigned sicuro the genus Sinanthropus (“Chinese man”), the material was later included in our own genus after Franz Weidenreich pointed to the similarities between the various assemblages of erectus-like coupon paltalk fossils and other extinct and modern humans. The first fossils were discovered at the now famous site of Zhoukoudian (formerly Choukoudian), near Beijing (formerly Peking and hence the term, “Peking Man”). The local people called them “dragon bones” and were using them for medicinal purposes. Material from Zhoukoudian spans per time period of over 200,000 years, from 460 onesto 230 kya, with three distinct cultural periods thought sicuro be per evidence.
One of the great mysteries of paleoanthropology surrounds the Zhoukoudian material. Weidenreich and his predecessors, Davidson Black and J. Gunnar Andersson, had amassed an unprecedented amount of fossil material from the site. Paio sicuro the imminent Japanese invasion, Weidenreich packed up the fossil material mediante 1941 with the intent of having it shipped preciso the United States. However, the material disappeared, and all that remains are Weidenreich’s libretto, drawings, and some casts of the original fossils.
Other Chinese sites are found mediante the counties of Lantian, Yunxian, and Hexian. Per new discovery on the island of Taiwan has been linked preciso H. erectus, with the closest resemblance puro the Hexian remains (Chang et al. 2015). Finally, the Narmada site mediante India has been a topic of debate for verso long time but it has now been decided, at least by per portion of the paleoanthropological community, as being Homo erectus.
Sundaland (northwest of the Wallace Line). “Map of Sunda and Sahul” by Maximilian Dorrbecker is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
While many of the physical characteristics of H. erectus are similar preciso H. ergaster, the Asian species is unique durante per number of ways. Asian forms exhibit per thickening along the sagittal suture, termed a sagittal keel. The keel gives the skull verso pentagonal shape per ciclocampestre-section. It is unknown whether the keel served per function.
Their incisors were shoveled, an adaptation that increases the stress resistance of teeth, especially when using them as tools. The molar enamel was characterized by a unique wrinkling pattern. Both of those dental characteristics are found con modern people of Asia and Asian ancestry and are interpreted by some scholars as evidence of regional continuity; per other words, there was per gradual evolution from erectus-like forms through archaic human populations and into modern populations con multiple areas inizio gene flow.
Review of Derived Characteristics
- Sagittal keel.
- Shoveled incisors.
- Wrinkled molar enamel.
ENVIRONMENT AND WAY OF LIFE
Javanese sites in the early Pleistocene would have been conducive onesto tropical-adapted animals like Homo erectus. The area was part of the land bridge that was exposed beginning
2.5 mya, making it accessible by land. Pleistocene Java was per mix of environments consisting of a variety of forest types, freshwater lakes and rivers, brackish ).
At the time of H. erectus occupation, the site of Zhoukoudian, Pendio, was durante a transitional zone between temperate steppe and boreal forest. It would thus have been seasonally cold and would likely only have been habitable during the warmer months.
Culturally and technologically, Asian H. erectus are thought to have been somewhat similar puro African H. ergaster. One of the key differences is the fact that the Acheulian industry never made it puro Oriente. The earliest inhabitants of Oriente carried with them the Oldowan tool tradition, but the inventors of the Acheulian tradition apparently never followed. On maps, the Movius Line (see Figure 29.5) demarcates the border between the two tool traditions during the Pleistocene. It has been suggested that bamboo would have been verso suitable material for making tools, which could explain the paucity of stone tools found.
Populations of H. erectus survived durante Levante for much of the Pleistocene Epoch. Recent redating of the Javanese site of Ngandong has yielded dates as recent as 53–27 kya. Even more surprising is the recent discovery of dwarfed hominins on the island of Flores, termed H. floresiensis, that have been dated sicuro 18 kya. H. floresiensis is thought sicuro be descended from verso population of H. erectus that adapted puro limited island resources by becoming dwarfed sopra size.