The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Virtual estimates of brain size in the Krapina hominins


Anthropology, Vassar College

April 17, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

The Krapina hominins comprise a relatively large assemblage of early Neandertals. Endocranial volume (ECV, a measure of brain size) has been estimated for some of these individuals, but the sample has not been treated with “virtual” reconstruction methods. We use geometric morphometrics to reconstruct endocasts and estimate ECV of five crania in this sample, including the Krapina 2 juvenile for which this metric has not been assessed. We created multiple reconstructions of each individual based on different reference crania, providing us with a measure of uncertainty due to missing data. Validating our approach, our reconstructed ECV for the Spy II Neandertal (1525 cm3) is nearly identical to published manual and virtual reconstructions. Our estimates for the relatively complete adults Krapina 3 and 6, averaging 1250 and 1160 cm3, respectively, are similar to previous manual reconstructions. Estimates for the juvenile Krapina 1 range from 1408–1428, much larger than previous that used linear regression. There is great uncertainty in the highly fragmentary Krapina 5 adult, with estimates ranging from 1357–1469 cm3 using human references, or 1496 cm3 using Spy II as a reference. Estimates for Krapina 2 range from 1282–1301 cm3. Brain size at Krapina is similar to other pre-Würm Neandertals, within the range of but lower than the average of later Neandertals. The Krapina juveniles show adult-like sizes, suggesting human-like brain size growth.

This work was supported by the Joan E. Morgenthau Hirschhorn '45-44 Fund, and the Joseph H. and Florence A. Roblee Foundation, funding undegraduates in Vassar's URSI program.

Slides/Poster (pdf)