Homo erectus: Ancient humans survived longer than we thought

An ancient relative of modern humans survived into comparatively recent times in South East Asia, a new study has revealed.

Homo erectus evolved around two million years ago, and was the first known human species to walk fully upright.

New dating evidence shows that it survived until just over 100,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Java – long after it had vanished elsewhere.

This means it was still around when our own species was walking the Earth.

In the 1930s, 12 Homo erectus skull caps and two lower leg bones were found in a bone bed 20m above the Solo River at Ngandong in central Java.

In subsequent decades, researchers have attempted to date the fossils. But this proved difficult because the surrounding geology is complex and details of the original excavations became confused.

Between 108,000 and 117,000 years ago, the first humans to walk upright took their last stand.

Researchers have discovered the youngest fossils of Homo erectus in Central Java, Indonesia, an ancient human species that went extinct before modern humans evolved. The researchers say that their findings confirm when the species went extinct.
The study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The fossils were found at the Ngandong site, where climate change likely signaled the end for Homo erectus. The Ngandong site was first excavated in the 1930s by a Dutch team, recovering more than 25,000 fossils in a bone bed — 14 of which belonged to Homo erectus, including 12 skull caps and two lower leg bones. The majority of fossils belonged to animals.
Previous studies from the site produced different timeline results, leading to confusion over when the species met its end. But new and improved dating techniques by the researchers helped them determine dating for the bone bed itself, as well as the animal fossils contained in the site.

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