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Pithecanthropus erectus

From Academic Kids

Pithecanthropus erectus was the name first given to the Homo erectus specimen, also known as "Java Man", by its discoverer Eugene Dubois. The word "pithecanthropos" was derived from Greek roots and means ape man. See also Peking Man.

It is interesting to note that the find was not a complete specimen, as many are led to believe, but consisted merely of a skullcap, a femur, and three teeth. A 342 page report written shortly after the finding has thrown much doubt upon the validity of this particular specimen. Despite this, the "Java man" is still found in many textbooks today.

A second "Java Man" was later discovered in the village of Sangiran, Central Java, 18km to the north of Solo. His remains, a skullcap of similar size to that found by Dubois, was discovered by Berlin-born paleontologist Dr GHR von Koenigswald in 1936, as a direct result of the excavations by Dubois in 1891.

Until older human remains were later discovered in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, Dubois' and Koenigswald's discoveries were the oldest hominid remains ever found, and the first to support Charles Darwin's and Alfred Russell Wallace's theory of evolution.

Many scientists of the day even suggested that Dubois' Java Man might have been the so-called "missing link", yet due to 19th Century scepticism, this theory was never credited to Dubois.

The "missing link" is the creature that is supposed to provide the evolutionary connection between the apes and modern man.


"Pithecanthropus Erectus" is also the title of an album by Charles Mingus.

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