via Nature, 18 December 2019: New paper in Nature by Rizal et al. on Homo erectus in Southeast Asia – tying down their most recent appearance in the archaeological record to around 100,000 years ago and clarifying their place in the timeline of hominin evolution. The earliest known anatomically modern Homo sapiens came to Southeas Asia around 70,000 years ago.
Last appearance of Homo erectus at Ngandong, Java, 117,000–108,000 years ago
Homo erectus is the founding early hominin species of Island Southeast Asia, and reached Java (Indonesia) more than 1.5 million years ago. Twelve H. erectus calvaria (skull caps) and two tibiae (lower leg bones) were discovered from a bone bed located about 20 m above the Solo River at Ngandong (Central Java) between 1931 and 1933, and are of the youngest, most-advanced form of H. erectus. Despite the importance of the Ngandong fossils, the relationship between the fossils, terrace fill and ages have been heavily debated. Here, to resolve the age of the Ngandong evidence, we use Bayesian modelling of 52 radiometric age estimates to establish—to our knowledge—the first robust chronology at regional, valley and local scales. We used uranium-series dating of speleothems to constrain regional landscape evolution; luminescence, 40argon/39argon (40Ar/39Ar) and uranium-series dating to constrain the sequence of terrace evolution; and applied uranium-series and uranium series–electron-spin resonance (US–ESR) dating to non-human fossils to directly date our re-excavation of Ngandong. We show that at least by 500 thousand years ago (ka) the Solo River was diverted into the Kendeng Hills, and that it formed the Solo terrace sequence between 316 and 31 ka and the Ngandong terrace between about 140 and 92 ka. Non-human fossils recovered during the re-excavation of Ngandong date to between 109 and 106 ka (uranium-series minimum)16 and 134 and 118 ka (US–ESR), with modelled ages of 117 to 108 thousand years (kyr) for the H. erectus bone bed, which accumulated during flood conditions. These results negate the extreme ages that have been proposed for the site and solidify Ngandong as the last known occurrence of this long-lived species.
- When did Homo erectus die out? A fresh look at the demise of an ancient human species over 100,000 years ago | The Conversation, 19 December 2019
- Homo erectus: Ancient humans survived longer than we thought | BBC, 19 December 2019
- The Doom of Homo Erectus: Mass Death Marks End of Species | Discover Magazine, 19 December 2019
- Last of the Homo erectus were wiped out by climate change in a ‘mass death event’ just 110,000 years ago – almost 300,000 years LATER than previously thought | Daily Mail, 18 December 2019
- Three species of early humans lived in same era in close proximity | Brisbane Times, 19 December 2019
- The last of the first humans to walk upright have been discovered | CNN, 19 December 2019
- Human ancestor: Scientists narrow age estimate for Homo erectus fossils | Click Lancashire, 19 December 2019
- Homo erectus was still living 108,000 years ago in Indonesia – earlier than first thought | Union Journal, 19 December 2019
- Modern humans and Homo erectus did not co-exist in Java, study shows | UQ News, 19 December 2019
- Fossils From Some of the Last Homo Erectus Hint at the End of the Long-Lived Species | Smithsonian Magazine, 18 December 2019
- Scientists Shed New Light on the Final Holdout of an Extinct Human Species | Gizmodo, 18 December 2019
- A group of our Homo erectus ancestors suffered a mysterious mass death more than 107,000 years ago. It’s their last appearance in the fossil record | Business Insider, 19 December 2019
- Found: The Last Stand of a Human Ancestor | Atlas Obscura, 26 December 2019