Definitions

Java man

Java man

Java man: see Homo erectus.
Java Man is the name given to fossils discovered in 1891 at Trinil on the banks of the Bengawan Solo River in East Java, Indonesia, one of the first known specimens of Homo erectus. Its discoverer, Eugène Dubois, gave it the scientific name Pithecanthropus erectus, a name derived from Greek and Latin roots meaning upright ape-man.

History and significance

Dubois' find was not a complete specimen, but consisted of a skullcap, a femur, and a few teeth. There is some dissent as to whether all these bones represent the same species. A second, more complete specimen was later discovered in the village of Sangiran, Central Java, 18km to the north of Solo. This find, a skullcap of similar size to that found by Dubois, was discovered by Berlin-born paleontologist GHR von Koenigswald in 1936. Many more finds have subsequently been made at the Sangiran site [needs better citation], although official reports remain critical of the site's "poor" presentation and interpretation . Until older human remains were discovered in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, Dubois' and Koenigswald's discoveries were the oldest hominid remains ever found. Some scientists of the day suggested Dubois' Java Man as a potential intermediate form between modern humans and the common ancestor we share with the other great apes. The current consensus of anthropologists is that the direct ancestors of modern humans were African populations of Homo erectus (possibly Homo ergaster), rather than the Asian populations exemplified by Java Man and Peking Man.

As with many notable hominid fossil finds, some creationists have attempted to downplay the evolutionary significance of Java Man by arguing the specimen should be considered either fully human or fully ape. An example of the former argument is the claim that Java Man is "a true member of the Human family; an example of the latter is the erroneous claim that Dubois himself later decided that Java Man was really a large Gibbon.

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