Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Earliest Humans In Southeast Asia

Prof Donald E. Tyler, Laura Putsche.

Of the four major geographical areas where fossil hominids (humans) are found, Southeast Asia is the least understood. Except for some isolated teeth the only fossil hominid remains are from sites near the Ngandong (Solo) River of Java. All of the major discoveries of Homo erectus have been made by local farmers except for the original "Pithecanthropus erectus" find of 1891. In 1949, based on the large size of a single mandible, G.H.R. von Koenigswald named a new hominid genus "Meganthropus." Today there is no agreement among the authorities concerning the taxonomic status of the mandibular specimens that have been assigned to the genus, "Meganthropus." Despite morphological differences mostly related to extreme size, these mandibles have been assigned by most authorities to a proposed highly sexually dimorphic population of early H. erectus in Java. New evidence of cranial material has made this proposal even more problematic. Sangiran 31 consists of nearly complete left and right parietals, part of the left temporal, and an occipital. The overall morphology is different from any known specimen of H. erectus. An undescribed specimen, Sangiran 27, consists of a nearly complete but crushed cranium. The palate and dentition are intact and are within the size range found for the "Meganthropus" type specimen and outside the range of known H. erectus specimens. It also possesses a double sagittal ridge. "Meganthropus" may be valid and represent an additional hominid species in Southeast Asia.


Prof Donald E. Tyler  (United States)
Chair/Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of Idaho

Laura Putsche  (United States)

University of Idaho

  • Southeast Asia
  • Early Humans
  • Homo erectus
  • Meganthropus

(Virtual Presentation, English)