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

A new early modern human calvarium from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania


1Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2Human Evolution Research Center (HERC), 3University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), 4Archaeology Unit, Department of History, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 5Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project (OLAPP)

March 27, 2015 3:00, Grand Ballroom E/F/G Add to calendar

Here we present the first description of a partial hominid calvarium, OH 83, found in 2009 on the north side of Olduvai Gorge at archaeological locality PLK by the Conservation Olduvai Project and excavated by the University of Dar es Salaam field school, both under the direction of F.T. Masao. The calvarium was recovered 180-220 cm below the surface of the exposed Ndutu Beds and derives from the upper unit. Dated to approximately 60-15 kya, this early modern human calvarium is mainly composed of the frontal and left parietal. In addition to collecting standard manual measurements, we photographed and 3D laser scanned the specimen at the National Natural History Museum, Arusha to facilitate digital measurement and morphological comparison. While incomplete, preservation is sufficient to assess frontal bone morphology and overall vault shape. Aspects of this calvarium including its high, vertically oriented forehead, and medially divided supraorbital torus are well within the range of morphological variation found in modern humans. Although some of the preserved morphological characters of this specimen, such as its long cranial vault and slight post-orbital constriction are similar to Homo rhodesiensis, the overall morphometric affinities of OH 83 are essentially modern. This specimen augments the African early human fossil record, providing additional information about the range of cranial variation of early humans.

This research was supported in part by NSF grant BCS 1025263.