The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

A.L. 333-105: Virtual reconstruction and 3D printing of Australopithecus afarensis child


1Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Bar Ilan University, Israel, 2Department of Anatomy & Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel, 3Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Health Professions, Ono Academic College, Kiryat Ono, Israel

March 26, 2015 1:45, Grand Ballroom C Add to calendar

Afar Locality 333 site was discovered in 1975. The rich hillside site yielded more than 200 bone fragments representing at least 13 individuals. This fossil accumulation, considered to be a onetime catastrophic event, became known as the "first family" site. One of the interesting findings from this location is A.L. 333-105, a rare infant skull, aged 3-4 years. Although the skull is almost complete, some of the cranial bones are missing, while others are broken and taphonomically distorted. The purpose of this work is to virtually reconstruct the skull and print the complete corrected one.

A high quality plastic cast of A.L 33-105 was CT scanned, and imported into Amira software. Bones were individually separated, while those missing were duplicated from the other side. We then proceeded to realign the maxilla and zygoma, creating a complete midface. The crushed frontal bone was fixed using geometric morphometric (GM) techniques and aligned to the midfacial skeleton. The temporal bones were remeshed by using the two fragments from both sides. The missing upper calvaria was created using GM methods based on the calvaria of infant chimpanzees. The final reconstructed skull was printed using a 3D printer.

Measurements of the complete skull are generally similar to those of the Dikika skull. Glabella–Opisthocranion is about 115mm and Prosthion–Opisthocranion is about 135mm. Endocranial volume is about 340cm2. Virtual reconstruction techniques are indeed extremely helpful and important, by increasing the sample size of the rare hominid fossil record.