Human Origins Leiden

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Status: In progress  
Project leaders: Collaborators:

00 fig06 HeFossils smallIn 1893, at Trinil on the banks of the Solo river on Java (Indonesia), the Dutch anatomist Eugène Dubois discovered fossils of a transitional form between ape and human: Pithecanthropus erectus or Homo erectus as it is now called. Dubois was a true ecologist who realized that his man-ape/ape-man fossils could only be understood in the context of their environment. Therefore, he collected all fossil remains from the Trinil site: not only the spectacular mamalian bones but also tiny bird and fish bones, as well as large amounts of molluscan shells. This meticulously curated Dubois Collection, housed at NCB Naturalis, provides the material basis for our Trinil project.

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We apply strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and stable (carbon and oxygen) isotope analysis on the fossil bones and teeth in the collection, to reconstruct paleoenvironments in the Solo Basin near Trinil. In addition, we employ detailed faunal analysis of the aquatic molluscan shell assemblage (especially the bivalve Pseudodon vondembuschianus trinilensis) to elucidate the behaviour of Javanese Homo erectus in terms of aquatic resource use and tool use. To provide age control on the shell assemblage, we are furthermore attempting to date the material using several geochronological approaches. The project is carried out in collaboration with Frank Wesselingh and John de Vos (both at NCB Naturalis), Stephen Munro (ANU Canberra), Francesco d’Errico (CNRS/University of Bordeaux), Jakob Wallinga (Delft University of Technology), Jan Wijbrans and Hubert Vonhof (both VU University Amsterdam).


Publications:                                                          Click here

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