Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Endocranial ontogeny and evolution in early Homo sapiens: The evidence from Herto, Ethiopia
Authors: Zollikofer, Christoph P. E.
Bienvenu, Thibault
Beyene, Yonas
Suwa, Gen
Asfaw, Berhane
White, Tim D.
Ponce de León, Marcia S.
Keywords: Paleoanthropology;Ethiopia;Endocast;Herto;Digital restoration
Issue Date: Aug-2022
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022, 119(32), e21235531
Abstract: Fossils and artifacts from Herto, Ethiopia, include the most complete child and adult crania of early Homo sapiens. The endocranial cavities of the Herto individuals show that by 160,000 y ago, brain size, inferred from endocranial size, was similar to that seen in modern human populations. However, endocranial shape differed from ours. This gave rise to the hypothesis that the brain itself evolved substantially during the past ∼200,000 y, possibly in tandem with the transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic techno-cultures. However, it remains unclear whether evolutionary changes in endocranial shape mostly reflect changes in brain morphology rather than changes related to interaction with maxillofacial morphology. To discriminate between these effects, we make use of the ontogenetic fact that brain growth nearly ceases by the time the first permanent molars fully erupt, but the face and cranial base continue to grow until adulthood. Here we use morphometric data derived from digitally restored immature and adult H. sapiens fossils from Herto, Qafzeh, and Skhul (HQS) to track endocranial development in early H. sapiens. Until the completion of brain growth, endocasts of HQS children were similar in shape to those of modern human children. The similarly shaped endocasts of fossil and modern children indicate that our brains did not evolve substantially over the past 200,000 y. Differences between the endocranial shapes of modern and fossil H. sapiens adults developed only with continuing facial and basicranial growth, possibly reflecting substantial differences in masticatory and/or respiratory function.
ISSN: 0027-8424
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2123553119
Editor version:
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons