Not only rich in Homo erectus fossil and artifacts, Sangiran Site was also brimming with numerous fauna fossil inside its stratigraphy layer - aquatic animals, reptiles and vertebrates, but mostly fossil of Stegodon sp., Elephas sp. (elephant)., Cervidae (deer), Bovidae (buffalo, ox, cow), and Rhinoceros sp. (rhinoceros). Early man and animals lived harmoniously a million years ago, until Homo erectus hunted down most of the animals.
Aquatic fauna fossils were found in a huge number in Sangiran. No less than 6,000 mollusc fossils, such as Gastropod and Bivalve, were identified. There were also other species such as turtle, tortoise, fish, and reptiles. Those fossils were vertically distributed in a stratigraphy that shows different habitation. The aquatic fauna fossils were deposited not only when Sangiran was still in a marine environment, but also in the freshwater period (swamp and river).
The type of predator that used to roam Sangiran was the cold-blooded reptile: crocodile. There were two species inhabiting Sangiran around 1.2 to 0.5 million years ago: the Crocodylus (the estuarine crocodile that lived during the transitional period from coastal and mangrove environment into mainland) and the Gavialus (river crocodile). They had elongated jaws, suitable to prey on small-sized fish.
Two types of hippopotamus inhabited Sangiran: Hexatoprodon and Hippopotamus. A fossil of Hippopotamus was found in Bukuran Site (Sangiran) in 1998. There were 109 fragments of hippopotamus fossils deposited in black clay sediment of Pucangan Formation dated 1.2 million years ago when Sangiran was surrounded by swamps.
Sangiran ancient buffalo live at Early Pleistocene to the Late Pleistocene. They are recognized by pair of permanent horns which is hollow inside, grow sideward with elongated shape and can reach a length of 1.5 meters. The horns grow shortly after the animal was born and continue to grow until oldest age. Ancient buffalo that live in their transitional habitat, from open grassland, bushes and tall grasses to the marsh habitat. The buffalo like to wallow in mudholes and swamps. Ancient buffalo live side by side with ancient Bull. Unlike the ancient buffalo, ancient bull has rounded and curved upwards horns. Antelope is a goat-like animal and is an endemic animal. There are two types of antelope that once lived in Sangiran namely Duboisia santeng and Epileptobos groenoveldtii which can be distinguished from the size of the horns. Duboisia santeng have shorter horns compare to Pilobtobos groenoveldtii.
Mastodon is the most primitive elephant among the three species of Sangiran’s elephants. With the physical posture similar to nowadays elephants, Mastodon has two tusks in the upper jaw, and two relatively small-sized tusks in the lower jaw. Mastodon is herbivore, eating the leaves and shoots of plants, and they are able to explore a wide range of forest habitat. Stegodons had lived and dispersed in Asia during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Unlike the Mastodon, Stegodon only had a pair of tusks on upper jaw. The tusks are longer, reaching 4 meters, so that Stegodon has giant-sized body. Stegodons live in the rain forest environment, the same environment in Sangiran at Kabuh Formation, about 700,000 to 300,000 years ago. When the environment in Sangiran became more open, this species became extinct. Elephas is a modern elephant, with different characteristics compare to the earliers. With smaller and straight tusks to subvert the trees, which the trunks and roots are their food. Elephas high-crowned molars are suitable for chewing hard foods such as dried grass and grains.
The exhibition was curated by Iwan Setiawan Bimas.
Text and photos : Iwan Setiawan Bimas
Translate : Ike Wahyuningsih and Wuri Hatmani