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


Endostructural morphology of the late Early Pleistocene human dental remains from Uadi Aalad and Mulhuli-Amo, Danakil (Afar) depression of Eritrea

CLEMENT ZANOLLI1,2, LUCA BONDIOLI3, FRANCESCA CANDILIO4, ALFREDO COPPA4, DIEGO DREOSSI5, DAVID W. FRAYER6, YOSIEF LIBSEKAL7, LUCIA MANCINI5, LORENZO ROOK8, TSEGAI MEDIN9, CLAUDIO TUNIZ1 and ROBERTO MACCHIARELLI10,2.

1Multidisciplinary Laboratory, The 'Abdus Salam' International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy, 2Département de Préhistoire, UMR 7194, MNHN Paris, France, 3Sezione di Antropologia, Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini", Rome, Italy, 4Dipartimento di Biologia Ambientale, Università di Roma "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy, 5Elettra Sincrotrone, Trieste, Italy, 6Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 7National Museum of Eritrea, Asmara, Eritrea, 8Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Firenze, Italy, 9Institut Catala de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain, 10Département Géosciences, Université de Poitiers, France

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Field work performed during the last decade in various Early Pleistocene east African sites has significantly enlarged the quality and variety of the H. erectus/ergaster record. Additional evidence comes from the northern part of the Danakil depression of Eritrea, where research carried out since mid-nineties resulted in the discovery of over 200 late Early Pleistocene sites within a ~1,000 m-thick fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary succession outcropping in the Dandiero rift basin, near Buia.

Together with an adult cranium (UA 31) displaying a blend of erectus-like and progressive morpho-architectural features, the latter more commonly found in Middle Pleistocene specimens, the 1 Ma old Homo-bearing outcrop of Uadi Aalad has also delivered two isolated permanent incisors (UA 222 and UA 369).

Since 2010, our research action extended to the 4.7 km apart coeval site of Mulhuli-Amo (MA), a fossiliferous area preliminarily surveyed because of its concentration of Acheulean stone tools. So far, the site has provided nine human remains, including the unworn crown of a lower permanent molar (MA 93).

The three tooth specimens have been imaged by microtomography at the Tomolab of the Elettra Synchrotron Light Laboratory of Trieste (isotropic voxel size ranging from 8.3 to 10.0 µm).

Both incisors have a relatively thin enamel compared to the modern human condition; as seen in H. antecessor, they show a smooth EDJ and a distinct root pulp canal shape. The best endostructural fit available in our comparative record for the low and squat LM1/M2 crown from MA is represented by North African H. heidelbergensis.

The Buia Research Project is supported by the Italian Ministry for University and Research, the Univ. "La Sapienza" of Rome ("Grandi Scavi"), the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation.

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