Two recent news conspire to claim that the affinity with us of Asian Homo erectus was less like us than we used to think.
On one side the so-called Peking Man, Sinanthropus or Homo erectus pekinensis (right), one of the most representative fossils of the species, has seen its brain throughly researched and the researchers conclude that:
Compared with modern humans, Peking man’s brain casts have small brain size, low height and low position of the greatest breadth, flat frontal and parietal lobes, depressed Sylvian areas, strong posterior projection of the occipital lobes, anterior positioning of the cerebellar lobes relative to the occipital lobes, and relative simplicity of the meningeal vessels.
The anatomical structures of Peking man’s brain maybe differs from the modern human, suggesting that Peking man had no ability to communicate with each other in the form of language.
Open to interpretation, I guess. Remember that chimpanzees have to at least some extent a language-ready brain, it may not be as simple.
Source: PhysOrg (via Archaeology in Europe).
Java terrace’s datings
On the other hand there are new datings of the river trench where the remnants of Homo erectus soloensis (aka Ngandong man) have been found.
Previous measures (Swisser 1996) produced dates of 25-57 Ka ago on bovid bones collected near the human specimens. However this new paper dates certain geological features (pumices) of the terraces that the authors consider a more reliable reference. These produce dates that are internally inconsistent (c. 546 Ka with the argon method and c. 143 Ka with the ESR/uranium one) but clearly older than the ones of Swisser.
Again open to interpretation and debate, I’d say.
E. Indriati, The Age of the 20 Meter Solo River Terrace, Java, Indonesia and the Survival of Homo erectus in Asia. PLoS ONE 2011. Open access.
Found via Dienekes.
|Fig. 2, showing the H. erectus finding sites and the pumice now dated|