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Fossils of rare, ancient animals found in Tegal

  • Agus Maryono

    The Jakarta Post

Purwokerto | Mon, December 1, 2014 | 05:31 pm
Fossils of rare, ancient animals found in Tegal Key discovery: A fossilized fragment of a gigantic ape’s lower jaw was unearthed at an archaeological research site in Semedo, Tegal regency, Central Java in 2013. (Courtesy of Unsoed Purwokerto)

Key discovery: A fossilized fragment of a gigantic ape'€™s lower jaw was unearthed at an archaeological research site in Semedo, Tegal regency, Central Java in 2013. (Courtesy of Unsoed Purwokerto)

The Yogyakarta Archaeology Agency has said that it has found fossils of two rare, ancient animals in Semedo, an archaeology site in Semedo village in Kedungbanteng district, Tegal regency, Central Java.

The unearthed fossils of the species -- dwarf elephant (stegodon) and giant ape -- are considered to be an extraordinary finding as the agency says those species have never been seen before.

Agency head Siswanto said the two fossils were found separately. The dwarf elephant fossil was discovered in 2013 while the giant ape fossil was found this year.

'€œThese two findings are important because after we examined them further, we found that the dwarf elephant was an endemic fauna in Semedo. That'€™s why we named the species stegodon [pygmy] semedoensis,'€ Siswanto said. The archaeologist explained the findings in a general lecture at the University of Soedirman (Unsoed) in Purwokerto, Central Java, on Monday.

Siswanto said the naming of the species was based on a number of scientific reasons. Based on morfometria mandibular analysis, for instance, the discovered dwarf elephant species belongs to stegodontidae, an extinct family of proboscideans. Its mandibular size was below normal.

Siswanto further explained the dwarf elephant fossil was a representative finding because it had never been found in other archaeological sites. The species had also never received a scientific name before.

Results of fossil examination showed that stegodon semedoensis was a stunted animal species as shown by the small size of its teeth and lower jaw.

Siswanto said the agency was still analyzing two fossils of teeth still attached to the lower jaw of the species identified as an ancient giant ape.

'€œIt'€™s a phenomenal and sensational discovery because all this time, fossils of the species could be found only in China, India and areas in Vietnam that cross border with China,'€ said Siswanto.

He said archaeologists had previously concluded that the habitat of the gigantophitecus species was only on China and South Asia.

'€œThe discovery of gigantopithecus in Semedo proves that the ancient giant ape species--around 3 meters tall (between 9 and 10 feet)-- also lived in Java,'€ said Siswanto. (ebf)(+++)

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