Homo erectus (~1.8 mya to ~40,000 years ago) traveled from Africa all the way to Europe and
Far Eastern Asia. First species of hominin to make it out of Africa.
Eugene Dubois (1858-1940) discovered the first Homo erectus fossils. While he was growing
up, the idea of evolution was becoming very widespread and popularly debated among regular
Most people believed that Africa was the place to go if you wanted to find fossils. However,
Dubois decided to go the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). He began in a colonial outpost in
Sumatra but requested transfer to Java. He began to look around riverbanks, where the ground
had been eroded because of the water.
The first Homo erectus fossil was found in Trinil, Java.
The first fossils of Homo erectus from Trinil were a femur and a skull cap. However, the skull
cap was not as recent as the femur. The next discovered Homo erectus fossils were found at Zhoukoudian Cave, China. Discovered
by Davidson Black.
Homo erectus “Peking Man” (~780,000 ya)
● Found in Zhoukoudian Cave, China
● All original pieces of the Peking Man were lost during the Japanese invasion into China
● Average cranial capacity 900cc (below typical humans, which have anywhere from
● It also had a thick brow (supraorbital torus) similar to the skull cap from Java [see above]
● Had a sagittal keel, not a sagittal crest
● Had no chin
Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster) KNM-ER 3733 (~1.7 mya)
● From East of Lake Turkana, Kenya
● Also had a large brow ridge ● However, it had no sagittal keel, which is why some people believe that it shouldn’t
belong to the Homo erectus family
● Discovered by Richard Leakey
Homo erectus or Homo ergaster (KMN-WT 15000) “Nariokotome boy” (~1.6 mya)
● Kimoya Kimeu found the first piece of the most complete hominin fossil to exist
● Aged around 8-12 years old
● His known cause of death was thought to be an abscess Homo erectus from Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia
● Hominins from this site are securely dated to ~1.81 mya
● Hominins were name D-2282 AND D3444
● Both had a cranial capacity of 650 cc
● D3444 skull had no teeth, which suggests that he was very old and lost his teeth. It is
implied that he was taken care of in his old age, suggesting new perspectives on early
Newest skull from Dmanisi (D4500/D2600)
● Prognathic upper jaw (relative to other Homo erectus)
● Very deep lower jaw
● Tiny brain case (cranial capacity 546 cc)
How human was Homo erectus?
○ The site of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa wa