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Pithecanthropus Erectus

PITHECANTHROPUS ERECTUS (Erect Ape-Man), the name given by Dr Eugene Dubois, of the Dutch army medical service, to the imaginary creature which he constructed from fossilized remains found by him in Java. These fragments consisted of a thigh-bone, two teeth, and the upper part of a skull, and were unearthed in 1891-1892 on the left bank of the Bengawan River near Trinil. The skull appears to have been low and depressed with strong supraciliary ridges; the teeth are very large, and the femur is quite human. The teeth and skull were found together, the femur a few yards away a year afterwards. The discoverer, however, stated it as his belief that the fragments were portions of the same skeleton and belonged to a creature half-way between man and the higher apes and of the Pleistocene age. Much discussion followed the " find," and many authorities have given an opinion adverse to Dr Dubois's theory. The prevailing opinion is that the bones are human. They are not held to represent what has been called " the missing link," bridging over the gulf between man and the apes; but almost all authorities are agreed that they constitute a further link in the chain, bringing man nearer his Simian prototype. L. Manouvrier concludes that Homo javanensis walked erect, was of about medium height, and was a true precursor, possibly a direct ancestor, of man. He calls attention to the fact that the cranial capacity decreases in proportion to the antiquity of the human skulls found, and that the pithecanthropus skull has a capacity of from 900 to looo cc. that is, " stands at the level of the smallest which have been occasionally found amongst the reputedly lowest savage peoples."

See Dubois, Pithecanthropus erectus (Batavia, 1894); a later paper read by Dr Dubois before the Berlin Anthropological Society was translated in the Smithsonian Repast for 1898. Also a paper read by Dr D. J. Cunningham before the Royal Dublin Society, January 23, 1895 (reported in Nature, February 28, 1895); O. C. Marsh, American Journ. of Science (June 1896); " Le Pithecanthropus et 1'origine de 1'homme," in Bull, de la soc. d'anthrop. de Paris (1896), pp. 460-67; L. Manouvrier, " Discussion du pithecanthropus erectus comme precurseur de rhomme," in Bull. soc. d'anthrop. de Paris (1895), pp. 13-47 and 216-220: L. Manouvrier, Bull. soc. d'anthrop. (1896), p. 419 sqq. ; " The Trim! Femur contrasted with the Femora of various savage and civilized races," in Journal of Anat. and Physiol. (1896), xxxi. I seq.; Virchow, " Uber den Pithecanthropus erectus Dubois " in Zeitschrift f. Ethnologic (1895), pp. 336, 435, 648.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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