A snapshot of our mysterious ancestor Homo erectus

phys.org | 1/21/2019 | Staff
cv2angels (Posted by) Level 3
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If you bumped into a Homo erectus in the street you might not recognise them as being very different from you. You'd see a certain "human-ness" in the stance, and his or her size and shape might be similar to yours.

But their face would be flatter, with a more obvious brow. And having a conversation would be hard – his or her language skills would be poor (although they could certainly craft a stone tool or light a fire).

Course - Homo - Erectus - Ancestor - Africa

Of course this is entirely hypothetical, as Homo erectus is now extinct. This enigmatic human ancestor probably evolved in Africa more than 2 million years ago, although the timing of their disappearance is less clear.

Homo erectus was in the news over 2018 thanks to new discoveries in the Philippines and China, which have transformed our understanding of this not too distant family member.

Homo - Erectus - Year - Ancestor

So who was Homo erectus? And could 2019 be the year we learn more about our mysterious ancestor?

Where and when did they live?

Homo - Erectus - Java - Indonesia - China

Homo erectus was first discovered in Java, Indonesia and then China – these are the famous "Java Man" and "Peking Man" fossils. Eugène Dubois' 1891 discovery on Java (originally called Pithecanthropus erectus) was a key piece of evidence in supporting Darwin's ideas of human evolution.

The recent discovery of stone artefacts in the Loess Plateau of China suggests that a hominin, probably Homo erectus, was living in the region by 2.1 million years ago. This evidence pushes back their presence in Asia back by at least 400,000 years.

Homo - Erectus - Sites - Caucasus - Region

Other ancient Homo erectus sites are present in the Caucasus region of Georgia (1.8 million years ago), on Java and in Africa.

Homo erectus is thought to have become mostly extinct following the emergence of modern humans – yet some specimens from Java have been dated (with some controversy) to as recently as...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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