"Reconstruction of Homo Erectus based on bones found by Eugène Dubois" by Hay Kranen / CC BY 4.0

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.

Dec 19, 2019

By Aylin Woodward

In the early 1930s, Dutch anthropologists found a giant bed of bones hidden above the banks of the Solo River on the Indonesian island of Java.

Buried in the river mud in an area called Ngandong were more than 25,000 fossil specimens, including 12 skullcaps and two leg bones from a particularly intriguing human ancestor: Homo erectus.

This species of early human persisted for nearly 2 million years and spread far across parts of Africa and Asia. But scientists had been unable to identify when the last of them died out.

Efforts to determine the exact age of the Java fossils didn’t help much, since they gave a broad range of options: Their time of death was estimated to be somewhere between 550,000 and 27,000 years ago.

But a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature has put questions about the fate of the last Homo erectus to rest.

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6 comments on “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.

  • As usual anthropologists intellectualize opinions about our ancient ancestors, instead of using pure science to determine the nature and cause of death of Homo Erectus. Because their bones were found in one particular area they claim there was a mass extinction. Homo Erectus was not a mindless baboon, with respect to those creatures, but could think, had a mind and many other faculties. The anthropologists fail to consider that Homo Erectus buried their dead in graves, which were later ravaged by flood waters ending up in one location. Thus the original assumption of 550,000 and 27,000 years by the Dutch anthropologists in 1930, may be a more accurate time frame. In other words, the ancient Homo Erectus bones (from 550,000 years) ‘may’ have been washed downstream many thousands of years later to the much later location where they were found in 1930. Therefore the age of the bones are ‘not necessarily’ the same age as the riverbed where they were found.


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