The view from down under: A test of the multiregional hypothesis of modern human origins using the basicranial evidence from Australasia

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Abstract

Proponents of the Multiregional Hypothesis of modern human origins have consistently stated that Australasia provides one of the most compelling examples of regional continuity in the human fossil record. According to these workers, features found in the earliest Homo erectus fossils from Sangiran, Central Java, can be traced through more advanced hominids from Ngandong and are found in fossil and recent Australian Aborigines. In order to test the hypothesis that a close evolutionary relationship exists amongst the fossils from Australasia, this study will examine the cranial base. This region of the skull is considered to be evolutionarily conservative and has relatively good representation and preservation throughout much of the Australasian record. The results of this project highlight a number of features on the cranial base in the Ngandong sample that appear to be unique not only within the region, but in the human fossil sample as a whole. Several of these features, such as the morphology of the foramen ovale, the location of the squamotympanic fissure in the roof of the temporomandibular fossa, and the extreme expression of the postcondyloid tuberosities have been pointed out by workers such as Weidenreich and Jacob in their surveys of this material. The presence of these characters in the Ngandong population, and their apparent lack of expression outside of this group, provides strong evidence of discontinuity in the Australasian fossil record.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-659
Number of pages9
JournalCollegium Antropologicum
Volume31
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Homo erectus
  • Java
  • Modern human origins
  • Ngandong
  • Sangiran

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