Homo Erectus Skeleton


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H. erectus eventually became extinct throughout its range in Africa, Europe and Asia, but developed into derived species, notably Homo heidelbergensis. As a chronospecies, the time of its disappearance is thus a matter of convention. The species name proposed in 1950 defines Java Man as the type specimen (now H. e. erectus). Since then, there has been a trend in palaeoanthropology of reducing the number of proposed species of Homo, to the point where H. erectus includes all early (Lower Paleolithic) forms of Homo sufficiently derived from H. habilis and distinct from early H. heidelbergensis (in Africa also known as H. rhodesiensis). In this wider sense, H. erectus had mostly been replaced by H. heidelbergensis by about 500,000 years ago, with possible late survival in Java as late as 140,000 years ago. The discovery of the morphologically divergent Dmanisi skull 5 in 2013 has reinforced the trend of subsuming fossils formerly given separate species names under H. erectus considered as a wide-ranging, polymorphous species. Thus, H. ergaster is now well within the accepted morphological range of H. erectus, and it has been suggested that even H. rudolfensis and H. habilis (alternatively suggested as late forms of Australopithecus rather than early Homo) should be considered early varieties of H. erectus.