Pithecanthropus Erectus [Java Man]

Pithecanthropus Erectus:

The remains were discovered at Trinil on the bank of River Solo in Java by Dr Eugene Dubois in the year 1891. The skeletal material consists of a skull cap, three teeth- a lower premolar and two upper molars and a femur. From the same bed, many skeletal remains of various species including rhinoceros, elephant, hippopotamus etc. were also unearthed. The fauna indicates that at one time Java was connected with the mainland of Aisa. The geological age of Pithecanthropus Erectus is Middle Pleistocene.

Characteristics of Pithecanthropus Erectus:

  • Java man had a height of 1.73 meters and weighed about 70 kgs.
  • The length and breadth of the skull of Java man were found 18.5 cm and 13.0 cm respectively. Its cephalic index was measured as 70. It was placed under the Dolichocephalic group.
  • Like apes, its skull was flat frontally and the vault was situated downwardly.
  • The bones of the skull are found to be fused and the sutures cannot be distinguished.
  • The supraorbital ridges are continuous and fused across the middle line.
  • The frontal bone presents a slightly marked median keel.
  • The temporal lines parallel to the vault were found.
  • The skull as a whole lacks any trace of a sagittal crest.
  • Nuchal muscles on occipital bone present a situation between ape and man.
  • Foramen magnum was more forwardly located than apes.
  • The teeth are of enormous size. Each one is larger than the corresponding human tooth. The roots of the molars are strong and divergent (ape-like). The crowns resemble more than that of man than that of apes.
  • The femur of Pithecanthropus Erectus shows a well-developed linea aspera, which suggests the erect posture.
  • Cranial capacity was found as on 940 c.c. This indicates a situation between ape and man.
  • Pithecanthropus Erectus also had some cultural features like it had a brain which was capable of generating some kind of speech, use of symbols, control, use of fire, hunting etc.

There is no denial of the fact that in many of the physical features and behaviour the Erectus group was far more advanced than the apes. In various character, it is more human than Simian. ‘Pithecanthropus Erectus’ may not be a direct ancestor, but it certainly represents at least a collateral ancestor- ‘a great uncle’ rather than ‘a grand father’.

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