1Department of Cell Biology, University of Miami, 2Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of Witwatersrand, 3School of Geosciences, University of Witwatersrand, 4Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, 5Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
March 26, 2015 3:00, Grand Ballroom C
The Taung endocast remains one of the most important and controversial hominin remains some 90 years after its discovery. Taung provides some of the best and earliest evidence for hominin brain reorganization. However, a limitation of Taung is that the endocast is not complete with some of the most important regions, namely the temporal and frontal poles, still firmly attached to the skull. Using Micro-CT scanning it is possible to extract these regions with a level of detail previously only available on the natural endocast itself. Extraction of the prefrontal regions from the frontal bone using Micro-CT scans reveals a slight degree of asymmetry. While the general morphology of these regions indicates that A. africanus possessed a prefrontal region similar to that of chimpanzees, extraction of the frontal poles from the overlying bone using Micro-CT reveals a slight degree of asymmetry reminiscent of later hominin brain evolution. While further study is required to determine the possible similarities and differences between the endocast of Taung and those of Homo and Pan, it is evident that Taung will continue its position as one of the most important fossils in the hominin record.
Supported in part by the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa, the National Research Foundation of South Africa, and the Palaeontological Scientific Trust.