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Anthropology Issues: Extinct Hominid Java Man Essay

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Fossil discoveries

Java man’s fossil was discovered in Java, an island in Indonesia. Java man’s fossil discovery occurred along river Solo’s bank in the Eastern part of Java. The fossil was discovered by a geologist known as Eugene Dubois. Dubois discovered Java man in the late 19th century. Java man’s fossil was discovered in 1891 (Ciochon and Huffman 4183). Earlier, Dubois had traveled to Southern Indonesia in 1887 to uncover the ancestors of modern man.

In particular, Dubois found remains of a thighbone and a skullcap on the banks of river Solo. Initially, his search in the Island of Sumatra was in vain. However, his search in Java turned out to be successful. Dubois gave his discovery the name Pithecanthropus erectus (Ciochon and Huffman 4187).

The fossil discovered had a small cranium, which confirmed that Java man had a small brain. Additionally, Java man’s femur looked modern; this indicated an upright man. According to Dubois, Java man completed the puzzle linking man to apes (Ingicco, de Vos, and Huffman 99531).

History of discovery and credit to paleoanthropologists/researches

As mentioned above, Eugene Dubois is credited with the first discovery of Java man. Dubois was considered the first to discover fossil remains outside Europe. Dubois was an anatomist as well as a geologist. His discovery was at first rejected. This made him restrict access to the fossils for about 20 years. The geologist ended up forfeiting his acquaintances, relatives, and occupation to achieve his target. Dubois’ goal was to find the missing link between man and apes.

Since he could not get funding from his government for his research, he decided to join the military as a surgeon (Semah et al. 450). After a while, he was relieved of his duty, and two engineers were assigned to him alongside 50 convicted inmates (Semah and Semah 453). The team was supposed to help him in his excavation endeavors.

However, after the successful discovery of the fossils, there were numerous criticisms leading to the controversies that surrounded his discovery. Many people thought that his discovery was not very different and that the fossils belonged to apes.

Description of the physical environment

It is recorded that the Java man lived in an ever-wet forest. This habitat is compared to the environmental conditions experienced in the savannah rain forest. These assumptions were derived from plants found at the scene of excavation. These plants included grass, ferns, ficus, and Indigofera (Semah et al. 452). Normally, such plants were found in lowland rainforest (Semah et al. 452). Also, it was assumed that the Java man could use fire.

Description of lifestyle

Java man used simple choppers and flakes, which are considered as mode one technology. Evidence collected in the excavations included burnt stones and animal bones.

Additionally, other evidence of lifestyle included charcoal and ash deposits (Semah et al. 453). Java had warm climatic conditions, and the remains of bones collected proved that Java man consumed large amounts of meat. There is also proof that Java man’s eating habits included plants. Therefore, Java man was closely likened to modern man due to his supposed nutritional characteristics.

Geographical location

As mentioned above, the discovery of Java man’s fossils occurred on the banks of Solo River in Indonesian island known as Java (Stringer 178). Solo River is located in a village called Trinil, which is located in the eastern part of Java. The village is near Singiran museum in Eastern Java.


The climatic conditions in Java were a bit warm. Additionally, there were numerous proofs that showed Java man’s possible diet in those days. Firstly, the remains were found in a wet area, which indicated that he used the plant as foods (Semah et al. 453).

Also, remains of burnt stones and charcoal provided further evidence of Java man’s ability to make fire and his ability to cook. Moreover, the bones found around Java man’s dwellings indicated that he ate meat too. In essence, Java man’s diet included fruits, vegetables, and meat (Semah et al. 453).

Physical characteristics

Ancient discoveries of the early man are limited by the challenges of explaining or proving their physical characteristics. However, Java man’s key physical characteristics are well outlined. Java man’s body shape was explained using specimens extracted from China.

Java man is thought to have been short as compared to modern man. However, Java man was much heavy as compared to modern man (Foley 1). Furthermore, Java man’s brain structure had no significant difference from the brain of modern man. It is indicated that Java man had a small cranium, which means that he had a small brain just like human beings.

He had a huge face and a low inclined forehead characterized by a gigantic and flat nose (Semah et al. 453). His skull had very thick bones compared to the normal man. The Java man had chunky and sharp chin and long teeth roots shaped like the modern man’s characterized molar teeth. His jaw was huge, but it did not have a sharp chin.

Timeline of existence

According to the current assessment of the dates that the fossils are presumed to have been in existence, Java man must have lived between 750 000 years to1.6 million years ago (Semah et al. 453). However, there are still ongoing efforts to identify the exact dating by examining the fossil’s sites.

A German pathologist in 1985 brought the debate about the dating of the Java fossils. He argued that the thighbone resembled that of a modern man. He believed that the fossil belonged to a modern man whose deposits were dumped in an older layer, and after that, the layer eroded (Smithsonian Institution 1).

A possible explanation for the extinction

It is believed that possible reasons for extinction were a scarcity of prey during adverse weather conditions in Java, which could have caused starvation. Moreover, the weather condition during the Pleistocene period was hostile. Pleistocene era was characterized by repeated glaciations, which made conditions unfavorable for preys. It is estimated that Ice covered more than 34% of the earth; this could have led to starvation and illnesses caused by hostile conditions (Zanolli 473).

Landmark achievements

The discovery of the Homo erectus was a landmark discovery that led to a series of research studies and excavations aimed at unearthing the truth about evolution. After Java man’s discovery, a series of scientific research studies to prove the existence of early man began. Moreover, studies on evolution also soared (Semah et al. 453).

Dubious is credited as the author of human evolution theory based on his achievements in the same field. His excavations were crucial in creating the basis for human history. Moreover, Homo erectus theory forms the current basis of the evolution theory.

Works Cited

Ciochon, Russell, and Frank Huffman. “Java Man.” Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology 1.1 (2014): 4182-4188. Print.

Foley, Jim. 2006.

Ingicco, Thomas, John de Vos, and Frank Huffman. “The Oldest Gibbon Fossil (Hylobatidae) from Insular Southeast Asia: Evidence from Trinil, (East Java, Indonesia), Lower/Middle Pleistocene.” PLoS ONE 9.6 (2014): 99531. Print.

Semah, Anne-Marie, Francois Semah, Tony Djubiantono, and Boris Brasseur. “Landscapes and Hominids’ environments: Changes between the Lower and the Early Middle Pleistocene in Java (Indonesia).” Quaternary International 223.1 (2010): 451-454. Print.

Smithsonian Institution. 2014.

Stringer, Chris. “Paleontology: The 100-year mystery of Piltdown Man.” Nature 492.7428 (2012): 177-179. Print.

Zanolli, Clement. “Brief communication: two human fossil deciduous molars from the Sangiran Dome (Java, Indonesia): outer and inner morphology.” American journal of physical anthropology 147.3 (2012): 472-481. Print.

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