You have heard about the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin, haven’t you? To prove this particular theory, a Dutch paleontologist named Eugene Dubois set out in 1893 to find the missing link between the great apes and human beings. He started his search by unearthing fossils in the Sumatran caves.
Sumatra is an island in Indonesia and is supposed to be where they might discover some evidence. According to the locals, plenty of big bones appeared on a riverbank on the island of Java. Trinil, a river site, is where Dubois reported having made the scientific discovery of the ancestor of Homo sapiens, Homo erectus. None before Dubois probably attempted or was as much as successful as Dubois.
From Where Did Homo Erectus Originate?
All fossils of Homo erectus don’t look identical. The species went under a gradual change with time, and the difference between the early fossils and the latest ones is quite evident. Just like humans from one place differ from humans from another, these fossils display the same characteristic. As per the findings, the Homo erectus inhabited the planet for more than 1.9 million years. That comes to over six times the time Homo sapiens have been here till now. The earliest fossils of Homo sapiens date back almost 300,000 years. The oldest fossil of Homo erectus discovered now dates back between 1.95 million and 2.04 million years. Or that is what the fragment of a skull unearthed from a cave in South Africa suggests.
The skull probably belonged to a baby. Australopithecus is to be the ancestor of the species Homo erectus. However, we are yet to find out which species come between Australopithecus and Homo erectus. Several researchers have placed Homo habilis in the space between them. Many theories state that there might not be any difference in time between the last fossils of Homo habilis and the early fossils of Homo erectus. But, to state the fact that the latter evolved from the former might not be correct.
In Which Way Were They Unique?
The Homo habilis and the Australopithecus fossils unearthed so far are not just in Africa. It is impossible to find traces of the fossils elsewhere. Homo sapiens is the species that have been outgoing and have taken over the world.
Homo erectus and their relatives were living in a land that’s now Georgia some 1.85 million years back. They have also found a few of these fossils from the Caucasus region. These fossils vary depending on the age – from teenagers to seniors.
There is a little bit of confusion regarding whether these fossils officially belong to the Homo erectus or not. The reason is the small size of their brain and several other features. Some experts have labeled these specimens as Homo georgicus, though many think that these fossils are of Homo erectus. Besides Africa, they also discovered homo Erectus remains in Indonesia and China. They have found plenty of bone fragments there.
The close ancestors of Homo sapiens knew how to use tools. The tools they used were quite different from the ones that Homo habilis used. They were much more sophisticated. The species was new, and so were their tools.
Many of the major sites that have preserved the Homo erectus fossils are also places where they discovered Acheulean stone tools. Those places where they found traces of Homo erectus also preserved these attractive hand axes, which looked like pears. They used different techniques to make these tools, and they built them using materials sourced from some other place.
The Use Of Radiometric Dating
Though the discovery that Dubois made was effective and game-changing, he didn’t use radiometric dating. Scientists today use this technique to find out the actual age of a fossil. Several experts are trying to determine whether the femur, Dubois is a part of the skull of the same individual. The skull looks more like that of an ape, while the femur looks more like a human. The hope is that the findings will reveal something interesting pretty soon.
They are making numerous every day that challenges the previous theories on the evolution of the whole lineage. But it’s not that easy. There are several missing links and clues that are not readily available.