The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


A Multivariate Analysis of the Daka Calvaria (BOU-VP-2/66) and Implications for Homo erectus Taxonomy

KEELY B. CARLSON and BONNY M. CHRISTY.

Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University

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The “Daka” calvaria (BOU-VP-2/66) was recovered, in situ, from the Dakanihylo Member of the Bouri Formation, Middle Awash, Ethiopia and dates to approximately 1.0 Myr. Daka plays a critical role in our understanding of Homo erectus taxonomy because of its morphological resemblance to fossils from both Africa and Asia, sharing a number of derived traits with Asian H. erectus. Most importantly, Daka raises the question of whether African H. ergaster and Asian H. erectus clades are biologically distinct or represent a wide-spread, morphologically diverse paleodeme. Despite Daka’s potentially pivotal role in discussions on the evolution of the genus Homo, a multivariate craniometric analysis of the calvaria aimed at examining its morphological similarities with African and Asian H. erectus sensu lato is currently lacking.

To address this gap, principal components and discriminant function analyses using linear cranial measurements were performed to investigate the morphological affinities of the Daka calvaria. The comparative sample consisted of H. erectus crania recovered from fossil localities spanning broad geographic regions throughout the Old World. Our results indicate that the Daka calvaria exhibits the greatest morphological similarity to Asian H. erectus fossils. Additionally, there does not appear to be a clear distinction between African and Asian H. erectus crania in terms of linear morphology. These results are in accordance with the conclusions originally proposed in the announcement of the fossil and suggest that the species-level division between African and Asian H. erectus may not be taxonomically meaningful.

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