Tam Pa Ling and the Eastern Asian hominin fossil record

Fabrice Demeter, Philippe Duringer, Kira Westaway, Jean Luc Ponche, Anne Marie Bacon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The role of Eastern Asia in paleoanthropology has changed dramatically since Eugène Dubois set sail for Indonesia to find fossil evidence of the missing link between modern humans and our gibbon ancestors (Swisher III et al., 2000). After his discovery of the skullcap and femur that would become known as Pithecanthropus erectus in 1891, Central, East, and Southeast Asia became prime ground for paleoanthropological research. At the turn of the century, the prevailing paradigm for the birthplace of humanity was Central Asia, and Dubois’s Java Man was critical evidence to support the popular Central Asia Theory of human origins (Matthew, 1915; Osborn, 1926; Yen, 2014). By the 1920s, roughly 30 years after Dubois’ discovery, further excavation on the island of Java uncovered a second Pithecanthropus skull and at Zhoukoudian near Beijing, 14 skulls and parts of more than 40 ancient human skeletons were soon discovered – more than had ever been found at any other site in the world. Eventually the fossils from Java and China were found to be so similar that they were grouped together and renamed Homo erectus.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVatican Revue
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jan 2020

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