Some months ago, two or three Russian guys,
based in the pictures of the Ngandong tiger bones, began to say that the real length
of the large femur of P. t. soloensis
was 408 mm and that the figure of 480 mm was a misprint. It is already knew the
large conversation that began in the Roman Uchitel page, but at the end, we don’t
get to any agree.
Since then, I began to work in the first
accurate comparison images from those long bones (femur and the two large
humerus) and the results are very interesting. For time issues, I was unable to
post this before, but now, here are my results.
1. The simple
The next image shows the three long bones
scaled as they are in the original picture. The measurement rule is scaled
based in the humerus of 381 mm.
The two humerus fit almost perfectly with the
measurements published (although the larger humerus is curved beyond any
natural form in the picture) but the femur doesn’t. In fact, the image is much
distorted and this is clearer by the fact that the distal part seems excessively
wide in comparison with the proximal part. Besides, the internal condyle of the
femur should be slightly larger than the external condyle, which is evidence
that the femur image is twisted. Now, the femur head is correct and the greater
trochanter seems slightly lower, which is correct in the Panthera members (Smilodon
humerus show a different tendency).
Now, the image clearly shows that the femur don’t
measure 408 mm, so we can’t exclude that ridiculous and baseless claim from the
Russian guys. However, it is interesting that the image suggest a length of 420
mm, although with such a distorted image is impossible (at this first phase) to
reach a conclusion.
2. Femur from anterior
and posterior view.
Now, here is the image with both views of the
femur, showing them differences caused by the distorted picture.
Again, is interesting to see that this other
femur picture is also weird. This time, the distal part is correct but the
proximal part is badly deformed as the greater trochanter seems higher than the
femur head, which is incorrect. Both images show the distal part larger than
the proximal, which is also incorrect, but this is caused by the badly taken
About the size, this new image suggest a length
of slightly over 425 mm, but as the image is not straight, it is possible that,
based only on these pictures, the femur length was of 430 mm. This hypothesis will
be tested further in this post.
3. Bones and
In this next image I used the measurements
published by Dr Von Koenigswald.
The bones were scales using the greatest length
and the transversal wide. Again, the two humerus needs no much adjust, but the
femur was so deformed in the pictures that needed a greater work. At the end,
using the bones of one modern tiger, the Trinil tiger from Brongersman (1935)
and the figures published by Merriam & Stock (1932) for Panthera atrox, I managed to reconstruct
the true figure of the femur, showing that the measurements published by Dr Von
Koenigswal were not just possible, but also correct.
4. The final bones.
This next image shows how the bones will look
correctly scaled and using the original measurements. The femur is slender but
it fit very well with the form of the Trinil tiger femur.
For comparison, I used the five tiger specimens
published by Christiansen & Harris (2005) in order to get if the wide of
the bone was correct or not. I calculated the ratio between the bone length and
the distal articular wide of the bone (the transversal wide in the fossils). The
results are the next, with measurements in mm:
Id. Femur length Femur distal wide Ratio
CN5667 360.5 69.5 5.19
CN5669 341.5 62.4 5.47
CN5697 429.5 78.5 5.47
CN6049 408.5 81.2 5.03
CN5698 411.0 76.3 5.39
Soloensis 480.0 88.0 5.45
As we can see, the ratio length/distal wide of
the femur of P. t. soloensis fits
perfectly among the modern tigers, showing that long and slender bones has been
a characteristic of tigers since the Pleistocene. In this case, the great length
of the femur and its relative “small” wide are not discordant factors. It will
be good to compare also the proximal wide, but sadly there are no bone
measurements published from this part (at least, not know by me).
5. The final comparison.
In this last image, we can see the original
bones from the pictures of the book, latter the bones scaled at 430 mm, as is
suggested by the same pictures and finally the real size of 480 mm, as was
presented by Dr Von Koenigswald.
The possibility of a femur of 430 mm seems
plausible if we take in count that this scaled size almost fit with the
original images. However, we must not forget that these original images don’t represent
the real form of the bone. Besides, this bone is localized in the inner part of
the book and is practically impossible to get an accurate image without tear
the paper or damaging the book. I suggest trust in the measurements of Dr Von
Koenigswald, after all, he worked with the real bones.
I think that the people must stop creating baseless
excuses about the measurements, like “it is a misprint” or “it doesn’t fit with
real bones”. As I have proved, the measurements are not only possible, but also
fit very well in the tiger morphological standards. Besides, I heavily doubt
that such a famous Paleontologist like Dr Von Koenigswald will just past this “misprint”
mistake without taking actions to correct it.
Other mistake from the Russian guys is to
compare Pleistocene lion (Panthera
spelaea) bones with tiger bones. Hemmer (2011) stated very well that
Pleistocene lions were more massive than modern lions at the same size, and
taking in count the fact that modern lions have wider bones than modern tigers
and that tigers have about the same bone-wide since the Pleistocene, the comparison
between all of them are impossible as represent different morphological
The possibility that the femur measured 408 mm
was completely discarded and although the image suggested another length (430
mm), it is impossible to affirm if this new length is correct, especially by
the state of the original pictures, taken from the book.
About the length of 480 mm, it has been proved
that the bone dimensions are not only plausible but they are real and match
with the modern tiger bones. It will be good to include other comparative
measurements in the future, with other tiger bones, but for the moment, it has
been proved that the size of the large femur of the Ngandong tiger is real and
most be trusted as it came from the Dr Von Koenigswald himself.
Again, here is the final image with the correct
size of these three long bones:
Let’s not forget this paragraph:
It seems that Dr Hemmer (1971, 1979) also
studied those fossils and concluded that those tigers were as large as or
larger than the modern ones, corroborating the great sizes reported by Dr Von
Here is the source of this last paragraph, which
is a document of Dr Seidensticker (1986):
Greetings to all.