[Taxacom] A question regarding attribution of the name Homo erectus

Tony Rees tonyrees49 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 16:14:30 CDT 2018


Partly answering my own question, here is a quote from De Vos' 2004 account:

" In August of the following year [i.e., 1892] a third primate fossil was
discovered, this time an almost completely preserved left femur. “This
thigh bone”, Dubois stated, “lay at the same level in which both the other
parts were found, yet following the direction of the earlier stream which
deposited the tuff material 15 m upstream. From the circumstances of the
find and [my] comparative research it is evident that the three skeletal
elements belong to one and the same individual, probably a very aged
female” (1893, p. 10). The almost perfectly human characteristics of the
femur indicated that the individual must have walked upright and this
induced Dubois to christen his “chimpanzee” *Anthropopithecus erectus*.
Further, he stated: “In view of all three skeletal elements, especially the
femur, *Anthropopithecus erectus* Eug. Dubois approaches modern Man more
closely than any of the three great apes, a fact which is in harmony with
the thesis of Lamarck, and later of Darwin and others, that the first step
in the direction of humanisation of our ancestors was the [acquisition of
the] erect position”.

So from this it seems that the name "erectus" probably dates from 1893 (the
reference given is  Dubois, E. 1893. Palaeontologische onderzoekingen op
Java. Extra bijvoegsel der Javasche Courant, Verslag van het Mijnwezen over
het 3e kwartaal 1892: 10-14), unless for some reason the name is treated as
not validly published in this work, or is pre-dated by his 1892 report...
any other interpretations or evidence is of course welcome.

Regards - Tony


On Sat, 20 Oct 2018 at 06:58, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com> wrote:

> By the way, there is some general background information on Dubois' finds
> in De Vos, 2004, "The Dubois collection: a new look at an old collection",
> available at http://www.repository.naturalis.nl/document/43875.
>
> Regards  - Tony
>
> On Sat, 20 Oct 2018 at 06:52, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Dear all,
>>
>> The name "Homo erectus" is often attributed to (Dubois, 1894) but some
>> sources currently also cite the year as 1892 and 1893. Apparently Dubois
>> published his paper "Pithecanthropus erectus, eine menschenaehnliche
>> Uebergangsform aus Java" in 1894 although he had earlier (1892 and 1893)
>> attributed the material to Anthropithecus (as "Anthropithecus erectus"), a
>> fossil chimpanzee. (There may be more information in the German 1894 paper
>> but maybe not; it is available on BHL at
>> https://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/42053756 for those who are
>> interested). However it is not clear to me whether the original 1892 and
>> 1893 usages were actually published in a formal sense (they were possibly
>> passing mentions in a report; there is also a facsimile of some ms notes
>> from 1893 available on the web in which he changes the genus name for the
>> first time).
>>
>> If anyone fancies a bit of sleuthing and can provide more information
>> that would indicate the correct date for the first usage of "erectus" in
>> this context for nomenclatural purposes, I would appreciate it.
>>
>> Regards - Tony
>>
>> Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia
>> https://about.me/TonyRees
>>
>


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