Date of Award

12-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Andrew Kramer

Committee Members

Lyle Konigsberg, Murray Marks, Gary McCracken

Abstract

Proponents of the Multiregional Hypothesis of modern human origins have consistently stated that the material from Australasia provides one of the most compelling examples of regional continuity in the human fossil record. According to these workers, features found in the earliest Homo erectus fossils from Java can be traced through more advanced hominids from Ngandong and are found in both fossil and recent Australian Aborigines. For this study, non-metric observations will be used to determine the degree of similarity between earlier Homo erectus from Sangiran, the Ngandong fossils (including the Sambungmacan hominids), and fossil/modern Australian Aborigines in the cranial base. This study will examine the hypothesis that a number of non-metric features will show an overall similarity between these samples, and will reject this hypothesis if it can be shown that significant dissimilarity exists between these groups. The results of this project highlight a suite of features on the cranial base in the Ngandong sample that appear to be unique to that group. These morphologies include a dual foramen ovale, the location of the squamotympanic fissure, the small size and parallel orientation of the occipital condyles, and the marked expression of the postcondyloid tuberosities. The presence of these autapomorphic characters in the Ngandong population, in conjunction with previous work on the Pleistocene paleoecology of Java, suggests that multiple hominid species inhabited that island during the Pleistocene. This work also provides strong evidence of discontinuity between Indonesian Homo erectus and the earliest Homo sapiens in the Australasian fossil record.

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