Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 483008
Title Homo erectus at Trinil on Java used shells for tool production and engraving
Author(s) Joordens, J.C.A.; d’Errico, F.; Wesselingh, F.P.; Munro, S.; Vos, J. de; Wallinga, J.; Ankjaergaard, C.; Reimann, T.; Wijbrans, J.R.; Kuiper, K.F.; Mücher, H.J.; Coqueugniot, H.; Prié, V.; Joosten, I.; Os, B. van; Schulp, A.S.; Panuel, M.; Haas, V. van der; Lustenhouwer, W.; Reijmer, J.J.G.; Roebroeks, W.
Source Nature 518 (2015). - ISSN 0028-0836 - p. 228 - 231.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13962
Department(s) Soil Geography and Landscape
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2015
Keyword(s) quartz osl ages - luminescence signals - south-africa - indonesia - sediments - reliability - sangiran - record - rates
Abstract The manufacture of geometric engravings is generally interpreted as indicative of modern cognition and behaviour1. Key questions in the debate on the origin of such behaviour are whether this innovation is restricted to Homo sapiens, and whether it has a uniquely African origin1. Here we report on a fossil freshwater shell assemblage from the Hauptknochenschicht (‘main bone layer’) of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the type locality of Homo erectus discovered by Eugène Dubois in 1891 (refs 2 and 3). In the Dubois collection (in the Naturalis museum, Leiden, The Netherlands) we found evidence for freshwater shellfish consumption by hominins, one unambiguous shell tool, and a shell with a geometric engraving. We dated sediment contained in the shells with 40Ar/39Ar and luminescence dating methods, obtaining a maximum age of 0.54 ± 0.10 million years and a minimum age of 0.43 ± 0.05 million years. This implies that the Trinil Hauptknochenschicht is younger than previously estimated. Together, our data indicate that the engraving was made by Homo erectus, and that it is considerably older than the oldest geometric engravings described so far4, 5. Although it is at present not possible to assess the function or meaning of the engraved shell, this discovery suggests that engraving abstract patterns was in the realm of Asian Homo erectus cognition and neuromotor control.
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