Evidence for increased hominid diversity in the Early to Middle Pleistocene of Indonesia

Clément Zanolli, Ottmar Kullmer, Jay Kelley, Anne-Marie Bacon, Fabrice Demeter, Jean Dumoncel, Luca Fiorenza, Frederick E. Grine, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Anh Tuan Nguyen, Thi Mai Huong Nguyen, Lei Pan, Burkhard Schillinger, Friedemann Schrenk, Matthew M. Skinner, Xueping Ji, Roberto Macchiarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Since the first discovery of Pithecanthropus (Homo) erectus by E. Dubois at Trinil in 1891, over 200 hominid dentognathic remains have been collected from the Early to Middle Pleistocene deposits of Java, Indonesia, forming the largest palaeoanthropological collection in South East Asia. Most of these fossils are currently attributed to H. erectus. However, because of the substantial morphological and metric variation in the Indonesian assemblage, some robust specimens, such as the partial mandibles Sangiran 5 and Sangiran 6a, were formerly variably allocated to other taxa (Meganthropus palaeojavanicus, Pithecanthropus dubius, Pongo sp.). To resolve the taxonomic uncertainty surrounding these and other contentious Indonesian hominid specimens, we used occlusal fingerprint analysis (OFA) to reconstruct their chewing kinematics; we also used various morphometric approaches based on microtomography to examine the internal dental structures. Our results confirm the presence of Meganthropus as a Pleistocene Indonesian hominid distinct from Pongo, Gigantopithecus and Homo, and further reveal that Dubois’s H. erectus paratype molars from 1891 are not hominin (human lineage), but instead are more likely to belong to Meganthropus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-764
Number of pages10
JournalNature Ecology & Evolution
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Human Evolution
  • Dental morphology
  • Southeast Asia
  • Primates
  • Great apes

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