Meganthropus X: Resurrecting the Mega-man of Java

In 2004, I purchased the obscure little book, “Apes, Giants, and Man” by Franz Weidenreich published in 1946.  Dr. Weidenreich argued for the now out of style theory that humans evolved from giant apes and giant” ape men” from Indo-China. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meganthropus

Dr. Franz Weidenreich. (Pronounced, “vye-den-RYE-h”).

There are many unconfirmed and outlandish height estimates for Meganthropus posted on websites. Generally these are 9 to 12 feet estimates. Dr. Weidenreich himself never made a direct estimate on the height of Meganthropus, only giving a body estimate of “larger than the largest Gorilla”, or 400 to 600 lbs. Dr.  Von Koenigswald also never made a direct estimate of the stature of Meganthropus, although both he and Weidenreich considered them to be “giants” relative to modern man. If that were not so, Weidenreich’s 1946 book may have been differently titled.

In 1956 The spectator: Volume 197, Part 2   wrote: “Meganthropus paiceojavanicus has been estimated as 8 ft. 3 in. high and Gigantopithecus (the China giant) as 11 ft. 6 in. but, says Von Koenigswald, ‘this naturally is pure fancy… any reliable calculation of their heights must await the discovery of long bones.’ ”

Dr. Ralph Von Koenigswald

Meganthropus jaw reconstruction, Center. Modern man, lower Left. Gigantopithecus, Top Right.

So we have some indications that height estimates of around 8 feet were already being suggested for Meganthropus in some Academic circles, albeit based solely on the huge jaw fragment, the Sangiran # 6 mandible, that monstrous bone unearthed by Von Koenigswald on Java in 1941.

Sangiran 6– Meganthropus Left, Modern Man Right. The jaw fragment and teeth of Sangiran 6 is 50% wider, thicker, and taller than a modern man’s.

Most anthropologsists today classify Meganthropus as a form of “Homo Erectus.” If we compare the size of a Homo Erectus skull with that of a modern man, we see that its jaw does not even compare with the jaw proportions of Sangiran 6.

Homo Erectus Skull, and Modern Man’s skull.

However, if we blow up the Homo Erectus skull by about 50%, we get the desired proportions of a skull more or less fit for a jaw as large as the Sangiran fragment indicates:

Homo Erectus Skull Magnified 50%, Left. Modern Man’s skull, Right.

Most of the textbooks, and available literature place Homo Erectus at between 5 and 6 feet, or within the range of modern humans. If we be conservative, and suggest Homo Erectus males were averaging 5 feet 6 inches tall ( 1.67 m) in Java, then this would put Meganthropus at 8 feet 3 inches tall.  It is a fair question to ask, perhaps the Sangiran jaw belonged to a form of man that had a remarkably large jaw and tiny brain, such as “Paranthropus.” Even if we were to scale down the skull by 20%, we are still faced with a Meganthropus of 7 feet tall. It is by no means un-scientific at this point to suggest that Meganthropus males may have regularly grown as large as 7 to 8 feet in stature if their skulls and bodies were built like Java man. This too would give Dr. Weidenreich’s 400 -600 lb estimate further clarification. If Homo Erectus males were averaging 5’6″ and 150 lbs,  Meganthropus at 8’3″ would have 3 1/3 times the volume and weight, and tip the scales at 500 lbs.

Illustration (I edited):
Stretching 8 feet tall, Meganthropus stands head and shoulders over Modern Man, and the 3 1/2  foot so-called “Hobbit” of Flores.

Fossil evidence from South Africa already indicates there was a period of Gigantism in the middle Pleistocene era, some half million to 100,000 years ago and fossil bones show that some Archaic humans regularly exceeded 7 feet, as Dr. Berger admits in a rare interview podcast: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/833/

An Argument can also be made for the considerable variation in size for the humans, and the “Homo Erectus” line. With the discovery of a new fossil species of recent (12,000 years ago) Hominid near Java on the Island of Flores, standing only 1 meter tall, or 3 ft 5 inches, a new plethora of unsolved biological questions emerge. If the Hobbits experienced Island Dwarfism and were only half our height and a third our weight, one may ask can the inverse occur, can Island Giantism occur? Meganthropus suggests so.  If the size of his skull is any indicator, he may have been three times the weight and half again taller than ancient man. If Meganthropus was averaging 8 feet (2.5 meters) in stature, and 500 lbs, very large males may have grown 10 to 20% above this, stretching perhaps 9 to 10 feet tall and 600 to 800 lbs! — Just as we have occasional 7 foot men today.

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2 Responses to Meganthropus X: Resurrecting the Mega-man of Java

  1. Visitor says:

    Franz Weidenreich : FRANTS vye-den-RYE-h ( h as in harmonics )

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