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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 5, 2009

UI anthropologist receives grant to continue early human dig site on Java

Russell L. Ciochon, (pronounced sha-HAN), professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has received a $35,000 grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York, to conduct a large-scale excavation for Homo erectus remains at Ngandong, Java, in July 2010.

Ciochon said that the interdisciplinary U.S. team includes UI associate professor of geoscience Arthur Bettis, UI anthropology graduate student Shelby Putt of Fort Wayne, Ind., UI geoscience graduate student Maija Sipola of Babbitt, Minn., and research faculty from the University of Texas and Rutgers University.

This U.S. team will collaborate with an Indonesian team comprised of four scientists and two graduate students, all from the Institute of Technology, Bandung (ITB). A group of undergraduate students from ITB will also participate in the excavation.

Ciochon said that the site, at which he last excavated in 2008, is critical for understanding the evolution and adaptations of early Asian humans because Ngandong contains the latest-dated occurrence of Homo erectus found anywhere in the world.

Living 50,000 years ago during the last portion of the Ice Age, Homo erectus fossils at Ngandong represent a surviving relic population on the island of Java. Other early humans in Asia that date to this same time range are our own species, Homo sapiens (China and Australia), and the "hobbit" (Homo floresiensis), an island dwarf survivor on the isolated island of Flores, east of Java.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009,