<i>Homo erectus</i> calvaria from Ngawi (Java) and its evolutionary implications

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Ngawi 1 is an undated but well-preserved <i>Homo erectus</i> calvaria from Java. Previous craniometric and morphological studies have shown its similarities to late Javanese <i>H. erectus</i> from Ngandong as well as Sambungmacan (Sm 1 [and Sm 3]). Some researchers emphasize their morphological homogeneity, and suggest that this 'Ngandong/Sambungmacan/Ngawi group' is morphologically distinct from <i>H. erectus</i> from the Early Pleistocene of Sangiran and Trinil, possibly at a species-level. In this study, we reinvestigated Ngawi 1 based on the newly cleaned original specimen and using micro-computed tomography with the aim of testing if such morphological discontinuity really exists within the Javanese fossil record. We metrically and non-metrically examined 33 cranial characters that are useful to distinguish earlier and later Javanese <i>H. erectus</i>. We also evaluated the morphology of the three Sambungmacan crania (Sm 1, 3, and 4) in the same way. The results of these and multivariate analyses support previous studies that Ngawi 1 exhibits many characteristic features of Ngandong <i>H. erectus</i>. However, Ngawi 1 is more or less similar to earlier Javanese <i>H. erectus</i> in smaller cranial size, a weak but distinct supraglabellar depression, a relatively short temporal bone, limited posterior projection of the middle part of the occipital torus, a shallower and 'roofed' mandibular fossa, and a smaller mastoid process. The three Sambungmacan crania also show general affinities to Ngandong, but are similar to earlier Javanese <i>H. erectus</i> in a few or more characters. Such slightly shifted character distribution is at least consistent with the hypothesis of continuous evolution of <i>H. erectus</i> through the Pleistocene of Java. This minor but potentially meaningful pattern of morphological variation should not be overlooked when a morphological group is defined for the specimens from Ngandong, Sambungmacan, and Ngawi. We also determined the endocranial volume of Ngawi 1 to be 959 cm<sup>3</sup>.


  • Anthropological Science

    Anthropological Science 123(3), 161-176, 2015

    The Anthropological Society of Nippon


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