The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Size and skeletal development in early Homo erectus: a comparison of Nariokotome and Dmanisi


1Department of Anthropology, Wellesley College, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Friday 11:00-11:15, Grand Ballroom II Add to calendar

Previous analyses of the Nariokotome Homo erectus subadult skeleton have reached differing conclusions regarding the pattern growth and development in early Homo relative to that of modern humans. Additionally, uncertainty persists regarding the amount of growth remaining for the specimen and its likely adult stature. The discovery of a partial subadult skeleton from the Lower Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia, provides a unique opportunity to test ideas originally extrapolated from the study of the Nariokotome specimen about development and growth in early Homo erectus. Here we test the hypothesis that D2700 and WT15000 fit the same generalized developmental plan when compared to modern humans, as observed by patterns of skeletal fusion and dental eruption and wear. Our analysis suggests that the two specimens are consistent with a common developmental pattern, with the D2700 individual likely slightly further along in its course of development and/or female, compared to the male Nariokotome individual. This conclusion is an important step in developing a more nuanced perspective on the pattern of development and size variation in the early evolution of Homo erectus. Additionally, the similar patterns displayed between Dmanisi and Nariokotome make the discrepancies in size and proportion of the preserved limbs found within the two samples, particularly the lower limb, interesting points of query. We present and discuss further hypotheses for the nature and significance of these differences.

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