The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 39 Number 4: 99-103 - October 1977

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Fossil Man in India: The "Missing Link" in Our Knowledge of Human Evolution in Asia
K.A.R. Kennedy


In exploration of caves and rock-shelters in India and Pakistan, palaeontologists have not been rewarded with the rich harvest of fossil bones of Pleistocene man such as has been recovered from natural shelters in much of Europe, Africa and Asia. It was at the close of the Ice Age and onset of geologically Recent times that prehistoric populations of South Asia began to occupy these formations. The predecessors of thse Late Stone Age (Mesolithic) peoples lived most often in open-air camps, as the archaeological records of their Early and Middle Stone Age (Palaeolithic) stone tools testifies by an artifact distribution in open country rather than in caves. Apart from some intersting exception to this trend in habitat preference, where Pleistocene man lived is reflected in a failure on the part of South Asian prehistorians to find the skeletal remains of the contemporaries of Neanderthals, Homo erectus and other Pleistocene members of the human family. This paper discusses those strategies of palaeontological investigation which, if pursued, could result in filling the hiatus in our knowledge of early man in South Asia. The significance of post-Pleistocene cave and rock-shelter habitation is discussed as well. Specific natural formations visited by the writer in his quest as an anthropologist for the bones of ancient man in Indian are described.

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