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Keywords:

  • Homo erectus;
  • Java;
  • Sm 3;
  • vertically rising frontal;
  • open occipital/nuchal plane angle;
  • cranial capacity

Abstract

A morphologically distinct partial calvaria of Homo cf. erectus from Java, Indonesia is described. The fossil hominid Sambungmacan 3 (Sm 3) was first discovered in 1977 from the banks of the Solo River near the village of Poloyo, Sambungmacan district, in central Java. It was later recovered in a New York City natural history establishment in 1999 and quickly returned to the Indonesian authorities. Examination of Sm 3 shows that the calvaria is well preserved with only portions of the cranial base missing. The most striking characteristics of Sm 3 include: the presence of a vertically rising forehead, more open occipital/nuchal and frontal angles, a more globular vault, and a cranial capacity within the Homo erectus range. Most notably absent in Sm 3 are a number of the classic characters attributed to Homo erectus, such as a strongly expressed angular torus and a continuous supratoral sulcus. The absence of such characters would normally place the calvaria outside the range of Homo erectus (sensu stricto), however, overall quantitative and qualitative morphological assessments of Sm 3 place it within the Homo erectus spectrum. The combination of the morphological characters in Sm 3 may be interpreted in several ways: 1.) the known cranial variation of H. erectus from Indonesia and China is extended; 2.) this calvaria shows evidence of evolutionary change within H. erectus; or 3.) more than one species of Homo existed in the (presumed) Middle Pleistocene of Java.) Anat Rec 262:344–368, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.