Nature 130, 14-14 (02 July 1932) | doi:10.1038/130014b0

Early Man in Java


ON p. 20 of this issue of NATURE there appears a letter on the recently found Ngandong skull, from Prof. E. Dubois, whose discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus and close association with paliontological research in Java entitle him to speak with authority on the question of early man in south-east Asia. After careful study of Dr. Oppenoorth’s paper, he has arrived at the conclusion that Ngandong man and Wadjak man are one identical type. This view carries with it certain implications, to which Prof. Dubois briefly refers, of no little importance in the study of the evolution of human types. Wadjak man is represented by two skulls discovered in the terraces of a dried-up fresh-water lake near the southern coast of Java, one in 1889 and the second by Prof. Dubois himself in the following year, and brought back by him from Java in 1895, but not described until 1921. These skulls have been regarded as ancestral to the Australian; but it has been pointed out, notably by Sir Arthur Keith, that Wadjak man, so far as described, presents certain points of resemblance to Rhodesian man for example, in the relatively enormous size of the palates, of which the area is identical. Prof. Dubois regards one of the Wadjak skulls, which in this respect differ inter se, as approaching the Ngandong skull in the shape of the occiput and other points; while Oppenoorth says of the latter that it resembles the Rhodesian skull, especially in the shape of the occipital bone, while the back of the skull “bears a resemblance to the Australian race”. Thus with the Talgai skull of Queenslandprobably pleistocene, and probably a relative of the Wadjak man, but still more closely related to the modern Australianthe newly discovered Javan skull apparently helps to link up a group of skulls, reaching out experimentally, if not in a direct line of ascent, to the modern Australian type.