Definition of Homo Sapiens: Ancient Humans Who Have Traits Like Modern Humans

Definition of Homo Sapiens – More than one million years ago, there once lived a type of primate on the island of Java which experts at the time called Pithecanthropus erectus (ape man who walked upright), which was later called Homo erectus . In subsequent developments and evolutionary processes, this type of primate that would evolve “dropped” Homo soloensis .

The most perfect process is the emergence of Homo sapiens or modern humans who lived in the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. The oldest Homo sapiens fossils in Indonesia were found in Campurdarat Village, Tulungagung Regency, East Java, which became known as Homo wajakensis (Wajak man).

Paleoanthropologists finally concluded that the Wajak man has Australomelanesid characteristics like those of humans, who are now residents of Australia (Aborigines) and are aligned with cave-dwelling humans in Niah, Sarawak, East Malaysia and Tabon, Palawan, Philippines. .

Archaeological research has been carried out at kjokkenmodinger (shell hills) on the East coast of Sumatra, caves in Kedah and Pahang, Malaysia, as well as several sites from the late Pleistocene – early Holocene period marked by findings of chopper-chopping tools ( crushing ax) which is monofacial and is often called Sumatralith . In the context of Southeast Asia, these kinds of chopping and slashing axes are found in caves in the Bacson area north of Hanoi and in caves in the Hoabinh area south of Hanoi.

This stone tool is thought to have originated from southern China which then developed in Vietnam. It was from here that the Sumatralith culture spread to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Seeing the origins of the stone tool culture, it can be ascertained that the supporters of this culture are humans who are characterized by the Mongoloid race.

Teuku Jacob in his research entitled Evolution of Man in Southeast Asia (1977) explains that Wajak humans, who are classified by Dubois as proto-Australoid, are the result of a mixture of the Australomelanesid and the Mongoloid races. Although the absolute dating of the Wajak human fossils has not yet been found, if we refer to Teuku Jacob’s statement, it can also be concluded that the arrival of the Mongoloid race in Java approximately took place at least 10,000 years ago.

This is in accordance with the results of the C-14 dating analysis of the Wajak fauna fossils. Meanwhile, based on the stratigraphic position of the site, it is known relatively that the Wajak man is estimated to have existed between 40,000–25,000 years ago.

Remains of the Australomelanesid Wajak Man are still found in Australia. This is why the sample used to study it is the Melanesian archipelago, an area in the Pacific which is close to the Australian continent. The Melanesian Archipelago includes several island groups, namely Papua New Guinea, New Britain, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Island of New Ireland, the Solomon Islands, the Fiji Islands, and other small islands totaling around 341 clusters.

The division of the territory between Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia is based on cultural or cultural characteristics. Culturally, among the three regions, Melanesia is the closest to Indonesia. Therefore, in studying Melanesian prehistory, we will not be separated from the context of the process of migration of peoples who currently inhabit several areas such as Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Australia.

Definition of Homo Sapiens

Homo sapiens or intelligent humans are ancient humans that resemble modern humans. They were formed after thousands of years of evolution. Homo sapiens lived between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, from the end of the ancient stone age to the young stone age. This type of species is not only capable of making everyday tools, but also has excellent thinking abilities. Not only that, they have been able to make a painting technology that is durable on cave walls.

Its physical characteristics also almost match the physical appearance of humans who live today. Homo sapiens is a species that is very tough in adapting to its environment. In addition, its brain capacity is much larger than that of previous human types.

Characteristics of Homo Sapiens

The characteristics of Homo sapiens can be described as follows:

  • Height ranges from 130–210 centimeters;
  • Body weight between 30–150 kilograms;
  • Brain volume between 1000-2000 cc;
  • Reduction in the teeth, jaw, and chewing muscles, so that there is a chin in the lower jaw;
  • The muscles and bones become smaller in size;
  • Has used language to communicate

Distribution of Homo Sapiens

The distribution of Homo sapiens originated from Africa, then expanded to various parts of the world such as Asia, Europe, America and Australia, including Indonesia. During a time of dramatic climate change around 300,000 years ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Like other early humans, they lived a simple life hunting and gathering.

The origins of modern humans and their migration out of Africa are in accordance with the theory developed by Stringer and Brauner. The theory is called Theory Out of Africa . This theory is also supported by genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence which states that the fossils found near the Omo River, Ethiopia (East Africa) are the oldest fossils of Homo sapiens , even older than Homo neanderthals .

This theory is also supported by research data on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), namely body cells in the form of complex molecules that describe the genetic system from one generation to the next. From the fossil DNA records found, then matched with current human fossils and the conclusion was obtained that human genetics or the genome is 99.9% identical throughout the world.

The experts also concluded that there was no mixing of modern human mtDNA with pre-modern humans in an area. In other words, Homo sapiens from Africa replaced and wiped out the previous human populations ( Homo erectus and Homo neandertals ) in the areas they visited.

Another theory that reviews the origins of Homo sapiens is the Multiregional Evolution Model Theory put forward by Wolpoff, Thorne, and Wu. These experts stated that modern humans are not only from Africa, but there are also those from Europe and Asia which are the result of previous human populations in their respective regions. This theory also states that Africa is the source of the arrival of human ancestors who spread, but did not mix with previous premodern humans in an area and developed according to their race.

Over time, Homo sapiens began to develop the ability to respond to the challenges of survival in an unstable environment. The oldest fossils of Homo sapiens were discovered in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, in 2000. The findings included skull fragments, complete jawbones and stone tools, which are estimated to be 315,000 years old.

Homo sapiens then spread across the continent and arrived in China between 120,000 and 80,000 years ago. Meanwhile, the Homo sapiens species found in Indonesia are thought to have originated from the Holocene era, which lasted around 40,000 years ago.

Homo sapiens not only made and used stone tools, but also made smaller and more complex tools. For example fishing hooks, arrows, spear throwers, and sewing needles. In the last 12,000 years, Homo sapiens made the transition from gathering food to producing its own food. The people also realized that they could breed plants and animals. As they began to invest more time in producing food and domesticating animals, they decided to settle down.

Discovery of Homo Sapiens in Indonesia

According to several findings, the ancient human species in Indonesia that is closest to the present human species is Homo sapiens . The discovery of Homo sapiens fossils in Indonesia dates back to 1889, when van Rietschoten discovered several parts of a human skull and skeleton in the Tulungagung area, East Java.

Homo sapiens in Indonesia are then classified into three types based on the location where they were found.

1. Homo Wajakensis

Homo wajakensis was discovered in Wajak, Tulungagung by von Rietschoten in 1889. The fossils found consisted of femur, upper jaw, lower jaw, shin bones and skull fragments with a volume of around 1,600 cc. Rietschoten’s findings are classified as the first Homo sapiens in Asia. The fossil was then examined by Eugene Dubois.

In a study it was stated that these early humans were able to make tools from stone and bone. Not only that, Homo wajakensis is also known to know how to cook.

From a physical perspective, the characteristics of Homo sapiens are as follows:

  • Flat and wide face;
  • Wide nose with protruding mouthparts;
  • Body weight around 30–150 kilograms;
  • Height approximately 130–210 centimeters;
  • The brain is already more developed;

The skull of Homo wajakensis is known to have similarities with the skull of Aboriginal people in Australia, so E. Dubois estimates that this type of Homo sapiens is grouped into modern humans who belong to the Australoid race. Fossils from Homo wajakensis have similarities with Niah humans in Sarawak (Malaysia) and Tabon humans in Palawan (Philippines).

Talking about Homo wajakensis , we will always be reminded of Eugene Dubois, a doctor from the Netherlands who had a strong desire to come to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) to prove or seek evidence for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as stated in his book entitled The Origin . Of Species , even though at that time it was still full of academic polemics.

By registering as a Dutch soldier for medical personnel, with his wife and children, Dubois was finally sent
to Sumatra. Dubois always found time to carry out his “main mission”, which was to look for fossils and the remains of human ancestors during his time as a Dutch army doctor.

Unfortunately, the Sumatra expedition apparently had not been successful and he turned his attention to Java. This was also triggered by information regarding the discovery of fossilized human bones in Campurdarat Village, Tulungagung Regency, which later became known as the Wajak I fossil. Based on this data, Dubois conducted excavations around the location where the Wajak I fossil was found and succeeded in finding the Wajak II human fossil.

In addition to the bones from Campurdarat above, Eugene Dubois’ important findings during his research in Java were several hominid bone fossils which he confirmed were human ancestor creatures that had been sought after by followers of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The discovery of a hominid species called Pithecanthropus erectus which was later called Homo erectus is the missing link that he managed to find in Trinil, Madiun, East Java, not far from the Bengawan Solo stream.

The findings that shocked the world of science in question were the hominid cranium, femur, and teeth fossils which were confirmed to be from the same individual. As an anatomist, Dubois succeeded in reconstructing it and concluded that the cranium, teeth and femur belonged to a hominid that had walked upright, although the face resembled that of an ape. The publication stated that the hominid was an ape-man creature that walked upright.

2. Homo Soloensis

Early humans of the Homo soloensis type were discovered by von Koenigswald and Weidenrich near Ngandong Village, the Bengawan Solo River valley. By some experts, these early humans are classified as Homo neanderthals , which are a type of Homo sapiens from Asia, Europe and Africa originating from the Upper Pleistocene layer.

3. Homo Floresiensis (Liang Bua Man)

Homo floresiensis was discovered by Peter Brown and Mike J. Morwood in September 2003. Liang Bua Man was considered the discovery of a new species which was then named after the place where it was found, namely in Liang Bua, Flores.

The characteristics of Homo sapiens found in Flores are as follows:

  • The head and body are small;
  • Brain size is also small;
  • Brain volume of about 380 cc;
  • Jaws protruding or narrow forehead;
  • Body weight about 25 kilograms;
  • Height about 1.06 meters.

The grouping of Homo floresensis as modern humans is still being debated by many experts. Some conclude that this type is the result of the evolution of Pithecanthropus, but other experts suspect that Homo floresensis coexisted or even lived in the same era with Homo sapiens .

Perspectives Regarding Homo Sapiens

Human evolution has given rise to various forms of human species on the surface of the earth. Human evolution is the phenotypic history of the genus Homo , including Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids. In human evolution there are human species, for example Homo neandertals and Homo sapiens .

Homo neanderthals have been a major topic in human evolution. This human species evolved 2000,000 years ago and has different traits with the changing times. Homo neandertals and Homo sapiens explain in detail about the evolution of the previous genus Homo .

In modern science, Homo neanderthals and Homo sapiens are considered separate species by having a common ancestor about 660,000 years ago. However, a 2010 sequencing (DNA sequencing) of the Neanderthal genome showed that Neanderthals did interbreed with Homo sapiens around 75,000 BC (after Homo sapiens from Africa, but before they entered Europe, the Middle East, and Asia). Homo sapiens (modern humans) have been around since around 2,000 BC.

In the book On The Origin of Species and the Descent of Man by Charles Darwin there is much debate. His opinion in the book is controversial, some groups support Darwin’s theory of evolution and some others reject it. Dawkins for example, one of the scientists who supports the theory of evolution states that the theory of evolution is a truth. Meanwhile, religious people tend to reject this theory because it is considered to negate God.

So, that’s a brief explanation about Homo sapiens , ancient humans who have characteristics like modern humans. Through the explanation above, it can be seen that Homo sapiens is an ancient human that has similarities with modern humans. Fossils of Homo sapiens in Indonesia are found in various places with some special features.