Teuku Jacob

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Teuku Jacob
Born (1929-12-06)6 December 1929
Peureulak, Aceh, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia)
Died 17 October 2007(2007-10-17) (aged 77)
Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Citizenship Indonesia
Fields Paleoanthropology
Institutions Gadjah Mada University
Alma mater Utrecht University (Ph.D.; 1967)
Known for Important contributions to biological anthropology
Influences William Montague Cobb
G. H. R. von Koenigswald

Teuku Jacob (6 December 1929 – 17 October 2007) was an Indonesian paleoanthropologist. As a student of Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald in the 1950s, Jacob claimed to have discovered and studied numerous specimens of Homo erectus. He came to international prominence as a vocal critic of scientists who believed remains discovered in Flores belonged to a new species in the genus Homo, Homo floresiensis.


Jacob studied at Gadjah Mada University's School of Medicine from 1950 to 1956; University of Arizona from 1957 to 1958; Howard University from 1958 to 1960, and finally Utrecht University, where he completed his doctorate in anthropology in 1967.[1] As a young adult, Jacob actively participated in the Indonesian National Revolution, producing a nationalist radio program. Following the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II, Jacob served in the Indonesian armed forces. From 1982 to 1987, Jacob was also a member of the People's Consultative Assembly.[2]

Jacob died in Dr. Sardjito Hospital at the age of 77 after suffering from a debilitating liver disease.[2]

Homo floresiensis[edit]

Jacob came to international prominence when he expressed his disagreement with scientists who claimed that remains found on the island of Flores constituted a new human species, labeled Homo floresiensis. Jacob insisted that the remains were those of microcephalic modern humans. In early December 2004, Jacob removed most of the remains from Soejono's institution, Jakarta's National Research Centre of Archaeology, for his own research without the permission of the Centre's directors.[3][4][5]

Jacob eventually returned the remains with portions severely damaged[6] and missing two leg bones on February 23, 2005.[7] Reports noted the condition of the returned remains included "long, deep cuts marking the lower edge of the Hobbit's jaw on both sides, said to be caused by a knife used to cut away the rubber mould"; "the chin of a second Hobbit japped off and glued back together. Whoever was responsible misaligned the pieces and put them at an incorrect angle"; and, "The pelvis was smashed, destroying details that reveal body shape, gait and evolutionary history".[8] This prompted the discovery team leader Morwood to remark "It's sickening, Jacob was greedy and acted totally irresponsibly".[6]

Jacob, however, denied any wrongdoing. He stated that such damage occurred during transport from Yogyakarta back to Jakarta[8] despite the physical evidence to the contrary that the jawbone had been broken while making a mold of bones.[6]

In 2005 Indonesian officials forbade access to the cave and thus no other excavations in the place were possible. The BBC expressed the opinion that the reason for the restriction was to protect Jacob from being proven wrong. Scientists were allowed to return to the cave in 2007, the same year that Jacob died from liver disease.[8]


  1. ^ Wahyuni, Sri (24 May 2003). "The Professor's Biography". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  2. ^ a b Wahyuni, Sri; A. Junaidi (19 October 2007). "Obituary: Influential paleontologist T. Jacob dies at 77". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  3. ^ Connor, Steve (30 November 2004). "Hobbit woman' remains spark row among academics". New Zealand Herald. 
  4. ^ "Fight over access to 'hobbit' bones – being-human". New Scientist. 11 December 2004. 
  5. ^ Times Online (3 December 2004). "Professor fuels row over Hobbit man fossils". London. 
  6. ^ a b c "Hobbits triumph tempered by tragedy". Sydney Morning Herald. 5 March 2005. 
  7. ^ Powledge, Tabitha M. (28 February 2005). "Flores hominid bones returned". The Scientist. Retrieved 28 February 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c "Hobbit cave digs set to restart". BBC News. 25 January 2007.