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

An analysis of the Klasies River hominins using a hybrid model


Anthropology, Northern Illinois University

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Current research indicates that modern Homo sapiens originated in East Africa and then migrated across Africa as well as out of Africa, where they encountered archaic hominins. The Klasies River Main site (KRM) in South Africa is one location where there is evidence that modern and archaic Homo sapiens may have interacted. As Smith and other researchers have suggested, the KRM mandibular sample, in particular, exhibits significant size and morphological variability, which counters claims that the KRM specimens are fully modern.

The null hypothesis predicts that KRM’s range of variation does not significantly differ from the ranges of variation indicated in the comparative samples, including Sima de los Huesos, Krapina, Skhul, Qafzeh, and the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Collection, the latter containing specimens classified as modern Homo sapiens from India. If the null hypothesis is rejected, this would be tentative support that the KRM sample may possibly be a hybrid sample. This study examines first and second mandibular molar lengths and widths as well as mandibular corpus height and breadth in adult hominins and compares patterns of variation using the coefficient of variation.

The results demonstrate that the KRM sample is markedly more variable than any of the comparative samples, which rejects the null hypothesis and is one possible indicator of an admixed sample at KRM. This study is limited by small sample sizes for KRM. This and the fact that KRM spans several thousand years may impact these results.

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