Re: 30,000 year old Homo erectus

Susan S. Chin (
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 00:21:49 GMT

Eugene Kriegsmann ( wrote:
: I am amazed that in a Paleoanthropology BB there is no mention of the
: Science article that appeared on Thursday describing the finding that
: certain of the Java specimens of Homo erectus are as recent as 30,000 years
: old. That would make them contemporaneous with both Neanderthal and Cro
: Magnon. I have read the article and several condensations of it. The
: information in the Science article is quite technical and goes well beyond
: my limited knowledge of Radio-carbon dating techniques. I would appreciate
: reading the view of some who have more recent education in this field and
: can critique the findings in a more credible manner than I.

Thanks for mentioning it. I read about it in the New York Times on
Thursday night (you can download it online), a lengthy article about the
surprisingly young dates for these Indonesian Homo erectus. Unfortunately
I have not read the SCIENCE article yet. The basis for their
determination of it as H. erectus: 1.morphologic characteristics
consistent with H.e. of associated faunal teeth, I want to say
water buffalo, but somehow that seems wrong... Some people believe that
the stratigraphy had been compromised before the fossils were found.
However from what I understand, they found the same stratigraphic
associations of Homo erectus fossils with the fauna teeth at all 12 sites
where the fossils were found. Their dating technique was questioned since
it wasn't direct dating of either the fossils or the underlying
geological strata, rather relative dating of faunal teeth. The
researchers also used the same method of dating on faunal teeth found
with the original Java H. erectus which date to 150-200K. The dates that
came back from the teeth were consistent with the 150-200K date of the
fossils (which presumably were arrived at using other than those teeth).

Anyway if the dating is correct, this means Homo sapiens in Java at
30,000 yrs ago had neighbors! The only question is... how well did
H.sapiens know their neighbors?

I was also very pleasantly surprised to read that one of the researchers
on the team was a classmate of mine from our undergraduate years. That
was encouraging!