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Abstract

The sixth skull cap of Pithecanthropus erectus (or skull V, since the Modjokerto skull has not been given a number) was found in the upper layers of the Trinil beds of Sangiran (Central Java) in 1963, associated with fossils of the Sino-Malayan fauna. No stone tools were discovered in direct association with the find.

The specimen consists of the occipital, both parietals, both temporals, sphenoid fragments, the frontal and the left zygomatic bone. We consider the skull to be a male in his early twenties. The occipital, parietal, frontal and temporal bones demonstrate definite pithecanthropine characteristics, and the cranial capacity is estimated to be 975 cm3.

Of the superstructures, the supraorbital torus is extraodinarily thick, approaching the condition in Australopithecus boisei and Rhodesian man. And the sagittal torus is certainly higher than in skulls I and II, but lower than in skull IV. In addition, the angle between the occipital and nuchal planes is larger than in the previous finds. As revealed by various features, the gap between the robustness of skull IV on one hand, and skulls I, II and III on the other, is bridged by the present find. There is no reasonable taxonomic need to ascribe this specimen to a new species, because it seems to be merely an intrapopulational variant of the same species.

Other skulls of P. erectus suggest that the bregmatic eminence, and hence the vertex, is invariably situated at bregma, but this new skull cap deviates from the pattern. Its pteric regions disclose the anthropoid X and I types. The middle meningeal groove pattern is similar to other Pithecanthropus skulls; however, it betrays a known anomaly in that the main stem is covered for a short distance by a bony plate. The mastoid process is fairly well developed, and is also well pneumatized as in P. pekinensis, with its air cells invading the pronounced supramastoid crest.

The zygomatic bone, the first one recovered of P. erectus, does not show characters of particular importance. In fact, its thickness is in the range of modern man.

We would like to stress that the absence of the cranial base does not necessarily indicate that the specimen must be a poor victim of cannibalism, since the morphology of the base renders it more susceptible to post-mortem natural traumata.