New Research Reveals The Homo Erectus Survived Until 117,000 Years Ago

According to a new research, scientists have now figured out just how long ago the last known Homo erectus inhabited what is now known as the Indonesian island of Java, helping solve a long-disputed controversy about these primitive humanlike species.

Last Known Appearance

Originally dispersing from Africa and eventually moving into parts of Europe and Asia some 2 million years ago, the new evidence reveals that the hominid’s final stand happened in Java, roughly 117,000 and 108,000 years ago. This is all according to a team that presented their findings Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature. The team is reportedly led by geochronologists Yan Rizal of Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology and Kira Westaway of Macquarie University in Sydney.

Given that these findings hold up to scrutiny and stand against previously existing controversy, the fossils would be the last known occurrence of H. erectus anywhere in the world. Furthermore, this would also show that during the complex interplay among different primitive Homo species that started some 100,000 years ago, H. erectus is most likely taking part.

From the years 1931 until 1933, excavations made at the Java Ngandong site managed to uncover around 12 H. erectus skullcaps and two lower leg bones. Since then, the findings led to contrasting age estimates.

It wasn’t until the new study, that researchers decided to uncover the spot where the fossils had been previously located, excavated the site and uncovered more fossils, such as the bones of large, hoofed creatures related to the buffalo. Per the study, the findings relied on measures of radioactive uranium decay in bones and of tooth enamel damage from natural radioactivity found in the soil, as well as cosmic rays, or energetic particles that bombard Earth from space.

From these, they were able to analyze dates of sentiment, which unsurprisingly, aligned with the findings’ age estimate for the hominids.

While there is indeed still room for scrutiny, the new timeline given by the study supports a scenario where at least three now-extinct homo species lived in Southeast Asia, all while the H. sapiens was still moving out of Africa.

Human Fossils New analysis of mitochondrial DNA from modern human fossils like the triple burial from Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic challenges the dates of "mitochondrial Eve," the common ancestor of all humans, and the first migration out of Africa. J. Svoboda