Hominid remains in the Indian sub-continent
In sharp contrast to the widespread occurrence of animal fossils and stone tools all over the subcontinent, the evidence of hominid fossils is at present very meagre. This is no doubt due to inadequate investigations.
From the 19th century onwards, several remains of apes were discovered on Siwa lake hills, the outermost of Himalayas. given rather dramatic names such as ramapithecus, siwapithecus, and brahmapithecus, they came to be collectively known as the god apes of Siwa lakes.
Remains of ramapithecus where subsequently found in other parts of Asia, Africa and Europe as well and where dated between 10-14mya. ramaphithecus, who lived in the Miocene-Pliocene transition, was once thought to represent the oldest direct ancestors of modern humans. however, there has been questioned on the basis of new dating and methods and reassessment of the fossil evidence.
Authenticated early human remains in South Asia are relatively recent. in 1966, Louis Dupree discovered a fragment of a right temporal bone at the cave site of the darra-i-Kur in northeastern Afganistan they deposit in which it was found a gave radiocarbon of 30000 1900-1200 BP i.e., 28950 1960-1235 BCE. the fragment was considered consistent with neanderthals as well as anatomically modern humans. the associated stone tools seem to belong to the middle palaeolithic context.
Several cave sites in Sri Lanka- fa hien lena, batadomba Lena, Beli Lena, and Alu Lena- also yielded remains of anatomically modern human in context ranging between 37000-10500 BP.
More recently, hominid fossils have been found in central India. In 1982 Arun sonakia of the geological survey of India made an important discovery near hathnora village on the northern bank of the Narmada, about 40km north-east of hoshangabad. here, embedded in thick, closely packed sandy, pebbly gravel he found a fossilized fragment of the cranium (skull cap) along with some fossils of vertebrates and a few late Acheulian tools.
The skull fragments seem to have belonged to women about 30-year-old. Sonakia suggested she represented and advanced variety of homo Erectus-‘advanced’ because of her larger cranial capacity range of 1155 to 1421cc-and named her homo Erectus narmadensis.
However, according to other scholars, the cranium belongs to an early variety of homo sapiens. it dates to is uncertain on view is that it belongs to the early part of the middle Pleistocene, beginning about 500,000BP.
Between 1983 and 1992, the anthropological survey of India launched an intensive search for human fossils and tools in the central Narmada valley. these led to the discovery of 100s of palaeolithic tools and some animal fossils. in 1987 A.R Sankhyan announced important discoveries in these aims boulder conglomerate deposit at hath nor where the cranial fragment had been found some year earlier.
These included a hominid clavicle along with animal fossils and several late middle palaeolithic tools. Estimated dates of these find the range between 0.5 to 0.2 mya. Sankhyan suggested that the two sets of two human fossils found at hathnora may well belong to the same women.
In 2001, P Rajendran, a teacher in the department of the Kerela university found a complete fossilized human baby skull in odai in the Villupuram districts of Tamilnadu. Rajendran was excavating trench which had microliths in the upper levels and upper palaeolithic tools at the lower ones.
at a depth of 6m, just under the upper palaeolithic deposit, there was a ferricrete deposit. The skull was found close to these trenches, embedded in the similar ferricrete deposit which was later dated 166000 BP, placing it in the middle or upper Pleistocene.
The antiquity of certain other reported hominids finds is uncertain. these are a case with they 2 human mandibles of an adult male and female homo sapiens found by H.D. Sankalia and S.N Rjaguru on the bank of the Mula-mutha river in Pune dist, M.H the age of mandible of an adult male found by V.S Waknkar in a cave at bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh is similarly uncertain.
Only a very minuscule proportion of the hominids record of the Indian subcontinent has been discovered. More concerted efforts are likely to add to the data and may transform the larger story of human evolution, which has so far concentrated more on Africa and Europe than on south Asia.